What School System is the best for my child, Montessori or Traditional?

Choosing a school for our children is one of the most difficult tasks as a parent, for example, what’s better for my child, the Montessori or traditional system? What are the benefits of both and why experts say the Montessori method is for all the children but not for all the families.

According to Maria Montessori, children absorb like “sponges” the child learns to talk, write, read the same way he learns how to crawl, walk, run etc. in other words is spontaneous.

The Montessori system has always been very controversial, for some parents is very structured and for others there’s no structure, “The Montessori system allows children to develop individually according to their own needs and abilities,” says Wendy Lewis, director of “ Montessori  Children’s School” in Escondido, California.

The three primary principles of the Montessori method are, observation, individual, liberty and preparation of the environment, the child is be able to work for long periods of time and able to choose his own material, “This allows him to satisfy his own needs. When they start an activity in the classroom they will finish it when they feel they are ready for the next activity instead of being interrupted like on a traditional classroom where the teacher says, ‘Close your math books, it’s time for art’ for the child to go back to that level of concentration it’s very difficult,” says Lewis

But for Jaqueline Garrido, a teacher at a traditional kindergarten, the problem is that most of the time the child doesn’t stay in a Montessori school his whole life, “A lot of children go to Montessori preschool or kindergarten, but what happens next?

Garrido who’s also a mother of 3, says nowadays, children are more independent, and if we don’t set limits and they are allowed to do what they want, children can get confused between, “What I can do and what I should .”

Main Differences Between The Montessori And Traditional System.

M-Emphasis on cognitive structures and social development.  

T- Emphasis on rote knowledge and social development

M-Teacher’s role is unobtrusive; child actively participates in learning.

T-Teacher’s role is dominant and active; child is a passive participant.

M-Child sets own learning pace to internalize information.

T-Instruction pace set by group norm or teacher.

M-Mixed age grouping.

T-Same age grouping.

M-Children encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help each other.

T-Most teaching done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged.

M-Children encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help each other.

T-Most teaching done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged.

M-Child works as long as s/he wants on chosen project.

T-Child usually given specific time for work.

M-Child chooses own work from interests and abilities

T-Curriculum structured with little regard for child’s interests.

According to Lewis, one of the most important benefits of the Montessori method is to encourage child’s independence, “That help that parents provide to their children when the children don’t ask for it, is slowing their development.”

 But for Garrido, who’s also an Educational Psychologist, the Montessori method is old and hasn’t evolved in years, so it’s not for the children of the 21st century, “Allowing the child to do what he wants, whenever he wants without any limits could be counterproductive for the society in which we live in where we can’t do what we please.”

 Daniella Kalach, An Example Of The Pros And Cons Of Both Educational Systems.

 Daniella Kalach started going to a Montessori school since she was 18 months old until preschool, a total of 4 years. This is the first school year on a traditional kindergarten for Daniella.

Sonia her mother who has also 2 more girls who never went to a Montessori school says, she’s seen a difference between her daughters, “Daniella has always been very good on math, she knew how to add and subtract when she started kindergarten and she knew how to read as well.”

 But on her first day of kindergarten, something took Sonia by surprise, “The first thing her teacher told me was if my daughter had been to preschool and I said yes and she told me that Daniella didn’t know the letters. She does know the letters but not by their name, by their sound.”

 According to Garrido, it’s very important that the parent decides from the beginning if her child will stay on a Montessori school or he will transfer to a traditional school, “If this is the case, the parent must reinforced her child’s education at home so when he transitions to a traditional school he’s not behind the rest of his class because the school system is different.”

Sonia agrees, switching school systems was a little hard for her daughter, but because Montessori taught her to work for long periods of time, she absorbs the information very easily, “I don’t regret enrolling her in a Montessori preschool, but I think I should have taught her the names of the letters for example.”

 Under the Montessori System, the guides advise parents not to saturate their children with information at home, since they are already working very hard in school.

What’s The Best School System For My Child?

According to Lewis, the Montessori system is for all the children but not for all the families, “That independence and socialization could be controversial for some mothers, for example, she wants to dress her daughter because she’s in a hurry, but the boy  wants to dress himself , that independence that we promote doesn’t always work at home.”

 For Garrido, parents should know their children well before choosing a school system, “The child makes the school, not the school makes the child, the child makes the system, not the system makes the child. We have to make sure the system we choose for our children is the best.”

According to experts, before making a decision, make sure you understand the benefits of both, Montessori and traditional method, visit the schools, observe your child and make sure he likes it, it’s important to observe if your  child is comfortable in the school environment, otherwise doesn’t matter which system you choose it won’t be beneficial for your child.


I wrote this article for Terra.com.


  1. There are currently over 20,000 Montessori schools around the world, which educate children from birth to age 18. Most of the schools serve young children from about age 2 or 2.5 years to age 5 or 6. The schools that use the name “Montessori” in their titles vary with regard to how strictly they adhere to Montessori methods, so parents should be sure to research the school’s methods carefully before enrolling their children. There is some controversy in the Montessori community about what constitutes a Montessori school. The American Montessori Society keeps a list of schools and teacher training programs.

    • Alberto, thanks for sharing this information with Latina Mom TV community. I agree we should research the school systems to choose the best one for our children.


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