When it’s time to pick a preschool for your kid, it may not be as easy as visiting the nearest preschool. So much comes into play to help you make the right decision, including the curriculum, cost, and learning style. Although both Montessori and Waldorf preschools believe that kids need to connect with the environment, they are different in some ways.
Waldorf focuses on childhood fantasies and imagination, while Montessori emphasizes real-life experiences. However, they both aim to educate the child holistically to encourage healthy development in all aspects of the child.
Here, you will learn about the key differences between them and how to choose the right one for your child.
When you visit a Waldorf school, you may encounter children singing, painting, listening to a story, using puppets, baking, working in the garden, or building blocks. The environment is serene, and the setting is home-like, allowing the children to use their imagination maximumly.
A Waldorf teacher directs and initiates the learning, playing the role of a performer to create a sense of spirituality and harmony in the classroom. Children remain with the same teacher from the first grade to eighth, learning through imitation and doing.
In Montessori schools, the teacher works as the facilitator rather than the director of learning. The philosophy of Montessori schools is that children are naturally intelligent and can inform their knowledge, divided into four different areas: practical, sensorial, language & and reading, and the last is math. The Montessori learning approach builds an independent approach to learning and life in many children.
Key differences between Montessori and Waldorf
One of the differences between the two schools is revealed in the curriculum. Waldorf schools have a rigid curriculum based on what is developmentally appropriate for every class.
On the other hand, Montessori schools have a curriculum that emphasizes children guiding their daily learning using the resources available in the classroom, such as educational toys for kids.
What they learn
Waldorf’s philosophy asserts that children greatly benefit from imaginary play and fantasy; therefore, it emphasizes stories, music, and other art forms while leaving the facts for older kids. They believe that fostering the child’s imagination lays the foundation for later academic subjects like math.
In contrast, Montessori schools largely rely on practical work and connection to facts about the real world from a very young age.
Who instructs the learning
Montessori is child-centered- the teacher works as a facilitator rather than the director of the learning as the children work alone or in groups. That creates a foundation for an independent approach to learning and life for many kids. In Waldorf schools, the teaching is teacher-centered; therefore, the teacher is in charge of what is presented to the child.
Choosing between the two
We cannot say there is the best choice between the two schools because each has its share of benefits and drawbacks. You should consider your child’s unique needs, personality, and thinking capacity to see how they might fare in a Montessori and Waldorf classroom. Most importantly, keep an open mind to choose what is best for your child.