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The 4 Differences Between Montessori and Traditional Teaching

calgary montessori difference

“The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.” -Maria Montessori

In 1907, Italy’s first female physician turned educator, Maria Montessori, opened the Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House) in a low-income district of Rome. Building upon existing educational theories, Dr. Montessori developed a unique teaching philosophy which was holistic in nature. Fundmental to this approach is the idea that a child possesses their greatest capacity to learn in the early years of life (from birth to six years old.) 

The Montessori method is a child-centered educational approach, based on scientific observations and has been time-tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world. Montessori kindergarten classrooms are beautifully crafted environments designed to meet and fulfill all the educational and developmental needs of your child.

At Grey Matter Montessori, we have adopted the high standards and integrity of this revolutionary teaching method and we strive to nurture, at all levels, each child’s individual strengths and interests.

What is the Montessori Method?

The Montessori method of education based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play. It was founded on the view that all children are eager for knowledge and fully capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully-prepared learning environment. This unique approach emphasizes and values the human spirit and seeks to develop all aspects of your child from their physical and social skills to their emotional and cognitive well-being.

What are the differences between Montessori and Traditional Teaching?

A recent study comparing the outcomes of children at a public Montessori School with children who attended traditional schools found that a Montessori education produced children with better social and academic skills. In addition, Montessori children:

  • Displayed a greater sense of justice and fairness.
  • Were more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers.
  • Less likely to engage in rough play.

So what is it that makes the Montessori method so unique and successful? Here are five fundamental differences between traditional teaching and the Montessori method, which has sparked the interest and respect of educators worldwide.

  1. Active vs Passive Learning: While traditional classrooms are teacher-led, with children instructed to listen passively, Montessori children are active participants in their learning. Understanding comes through a child’s ability to discover things for themselves while in the traditional method, learning is based on predetermined and limited subjects.
  2. Individual Learning vs Set Curriculum: Traditional teaching requires the delivery of the same lesson, at the same pace, in the same order for all students, regardless of their differences. The Montessori method allows children to learn at their own individual pace and follow their unique interests, resulting in enjoyable learning which is sustainable over a lifetime.
  3. Internal vs External Validation: The Montessori method of teaching encourages children to develop their self-esteem based on an internal sense of pride in their own accomplishments while in traditional classrooms, self-esteem has been shown to come from external judgment and validation, making it more vulnerable to outside circumstances.
  4. Environment: The Montessori method of teaching puts an enormous emphasis on a thoughtfully-designed kindergarten environment, prepared in advance based on students individual needs. While Montessori children are able to teach themselves using specially prepared materials, traditional classrooms are based on teacher-centred activities or lessons.

At Grey Matter Montessori, this teaching philosophy allows us to encourage our students to explore their world, to understand and respect all life forms and to develop into not only smarter children but kinder, more generous and stronger individuals.

To learn more about our Montessori-based program including the school calendar, fees and enrollment requirements, please contact our Northwest Calgary Montessori Centre at 587-707-4739. We look forward to hearing from you!


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Another shout out to an amazing school here in #Calgary! Our youngest son goes to this school and he loves it! In just 5 short months his knowledge has grown, his confidence is starting to bloom and he just loves learning! The personal touch the wonderful teachers provide is certainly priceless!  What I love is that when you walk in there, there is always calming music playing softly, and everyone is smiling and friendly 

Maryann Penney

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