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Old 02-19-2013, 04:35 PM   #1
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Montessori vs Waldorf schools

I have been researching about different types of schools and I'm intrigued about Montessori and Waldorf schools.

However, I'm confused about some of the conflicting responses on Montessori vs Waldorf schools. I see that some says that Montessori is less strict than Waldorf, while some say the opposite. (academically)

So can anyone explain and tell me a bit about if if your child goes to a Waldorf or Montessori?

Thanks!

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Old 02-19-2013, 05:03 PM   #2
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I'd love to know more as well! I literally just started "school shopping" for my DS.

My MIL worked at a school the year after they broke off from Montessori. They still used a lot of their methods, but they felt overall that it was too restrictive. For example, there's a specific way to teach a skill in the Montessori way and if a child struggles with that method they cant just switch and try to teach the child a different way. So she is against Montessori. That was... 23 years ago, though, and just one school.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:38 PM   #3
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Re: Montessori vs Waldorf schools

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Old 02-19-2013, 06:57 PM   #4
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Re: Montessori vs Waldorf schools

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Old 02-20-2013, 04:39 AM   #5
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:27 AM   #6
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Re: Montessori vs Waldorf schools

I am definitely not an expert, but I want to see where this thread goes (I'm super curious too!) so I'll share what I've heard...

Montessori focuses on learning as a cumulative process. A child masters skill X, then moves to master skill Y, then on to skill Z. Kids don't jump from X to Z. So in that sense it's sort of strict. The skills (aka "work") are all quite specific. Kid 1 may spend a month trying to master, say, object sorting with a certain set of blocks, while Kid 2 does it in a week. So Kid 2 moves on before Kid 1. So while the process of montessori work is sort of strict, the timeline seems to be flexible.

Waldorf looks at learning in a more holistic way. Instead of mastering core work, kids are taught creative skills, like knitting, singing, story telling, etc. Waldorf seems to be very strict regarding outside influences. Kids are discouraged from listening to popular music, watching TV, wearing logos or corporately branded clothing. They also aren't expected to read or do much math before age 7. There's also a whole spiritual element to Waldorf that doesn't work for me personally, lots of time in nature singing about God.

I don't absolutely love either one, but I like elements of each. I don't like that montessori feels regimented, and I know one kid who is in the 3rd grade of montessori but WAY behind everyone else in his class in reading--a problem that wasn't addressed for years. I like the creativity part of Waldorf, but as an atheist the spirituality stuff bothers me. So I'm a bit torn.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:51 PM   #7
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Re: Montessori vs Waldorf schools

My daughter us in Montessori so I clearly lean that way.
My knowledge of Montessori- love the mixed age class, rationale being you get peer mentor g when you are little and get to be a peer mentor and learn empathy as an older student. Focus on soft skills like resiliency, kindness etc.... Love the focus on taking care of environment and self-sufficiency. Yes it's structured, learn the targeted way of doing a 'job' and then you can be creative with materials. They do look at skills in a stepwise progression but also allow kids to jump and follow their interests.
Waldorf creativity and imagination are a huge focus with a heavy emphasis on avoiding outside influences popular music, tv, computer. I am married to an engineer, he would never have allowed our daughter to not be introduced to a computer for years. There is also only early admission allowed before their creativity has been infringed on.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:12 PM   #8
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Re: Montessori vs Waldorf schools

I was a Waldorf early childhood teacher for 5 years before DS was born and the following is the best way that I have been able to give a synopsis of the differences. Be forewarned that I have not studied Montessori in a formal way at all, so if I say something incorrect, I apologize!

Simply, Waldorf and Montessori use structure differently:

In a Waldorf school the day is highly structured.

*The teacher decides what to do each day. It is usually the same each week for the duration of the year, with more flexibility and change the higher you go in the grades.

*Teachers decide the schedule/rhythm for the day and tries to be mindful of including bathroom time, snack time, free play, out door time, cooking, lessons, stories, games, festivals/celebrations (like birthdays or May Day), etc.

*Every child is expected to follow these schedules and hopefully participate in each activity. Of course, there is the understanding about not being ready or having an off day, but the goal is to get everyone doing things together.

*Within the strong daily rhythm, however, there are large portions of the day dedicated to free, child directed play. I would say in a typical 7 hour school day there would be about 3 and a half hours are dedicated to free play with about 2 and a half of those hours outside.

*The toys in a Waldorf school are almost all open ended and what a child says it is, it is; Ex, if a toy horse is being used as a phone, that is totally fine and even appreciated by the teachers.

*Both the focus on creativity and on free play are designed to allow children to develop their imaginations which is thought (in Waldorf schools) to be the foundation of higher thinking.

In a Montessori school the day has more flexibility, but each activity is highly structured.
It is my understanding that in a Montessori school the teachers endeavor to have all activities available at all times to allow the child to choose. Thus:

*There is always a snack table available.

*Children may choose whatever activity strikes them at the time, whether it is math or reading or some other skill.

*Each activity has a "right" way to do it, and the teacher's job is to show the child how to do it correctly. The child then follows what the teacher has shown them how to do. A child will be corrected if they are using the activity incorrectly or if they decide to use it in a way that it was not intended to be used.

* There are no toys in a Montessori class room. And since most activities have a particular purpose, not much room for open ended play.

*A child may move on to another activity when ever they are moved to do so, and there is no need to finish one activity (except for putting it away) before going on to the next.

*I am pretty sure there is a good focus on being out doors in Montessori schools as well.

*I expect that there are creative activities in a Montessori class room (like painting, coloring, clay modeling, etc), but they may not have the same reason for being there, ie, to foster imagination. Their reasoning may be more along the lines of "art is fun", or "art is cultural".

I know this is in no way exhaustive, and, of course, each class room will be a little different, with different emphasis and interpretation of the given philosophy, but I hope it gives a good picture of the differences.
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Last edited by Zoethink; 02-20-2013 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Newton
I am married to an engineer, he would never have allowed our daughter to not be introduced to a computer for years. There is also only early admission allowed before their creativity has been infringed on.
You'd be surprised at what technology types could prefer for their kids

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/te...nted=all&_r=1&
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:55 AM   #10
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You'd be surprised at what technology types could prefer for their kids

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/te...nted=all&_r=1&
I'm really looking foward to reading this article. My husband is a computer analyst and our 4 year old still hasn't been sat in front of a computer, although we do let her use the Nook sometimes. A screen is a screen. Waldorf is very much for us, but unfortunately the tuition is out of reach for us. We participate in their summer programs.

Eta - great article. Yes, computers are supereasy. No need to "teach" them.
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