When parents are researching private schools, the myriad of options and different educational philosophies can sometimes be overwhelming. Many of the parents considering Waldorf education also consider Montessori. This is probably because both education methods cater to a student’s individual learning style with reverence and respect for each child and their gifts. But how each method approaches this objective varies greatly.
One might be tempted to summarize the differences in this way: Waldorf puts high value in art, imagination, and creativity and does not pursue academic instruction before the age of seven. Montessori puts high value in real life experience and an orderly environment and pursues early academics at a young age.
But this does not shed much light on the multi-layered and nuanced approaches of each methodology. In an effort to clarify, we have created this chart describing similarities and differences in each educational system. But, for true clarification about these methods and their appropriateness for your child, visit schools in your area and experience in-session classroom visits.
|Early Academics||Play is the work of a young child. Waldorf seeks to nourish and inspire imagination and creative thinking. Academics are delayed until Grade 1 so that the child has more time for make believe, art, music and the building of social skills and class cohesion.||The young child is a sponge. Montessori seeks to expose young minds to a rich array of academic tasks and experiences. Early education focuses on challenging intellectual tasks, which build upon each other for early academic adoption.|
|Curriculum & Later Academics||In a same-aged classroom environment, Waldorf educators encourage a love of lifelong learning through the use of multi-disciplinary methods that incorporate art, music & craftsmanship. Lessons are language rich and focused around all arts and multiple senses. Subject integration and classroom collaboration are key to the holistic academic experience.||In a multi-aged, multi-graded classroom, Montessori educators encourage children to engage in self-disciplined learning. Lessons are focused around real-life and classroom manipulative material. Subjects are approached with step-by-step procedure that guides students, individually, toward learning specific concepts.|
|The Classroom||Waldorf believes the child thrives in a rhythmical and predictable environment. The teacher leads the students and guides them into time of coming together and working or playing individually.||Montessori believes the child thrives in a free and self-led environment. The teacher withholds their will and allows the children to choose their own activities in the classroom, providing guidance when necessary.|
|Teaching Methods||Waldorf believes that young children learn primarily through imitation and that, even in older children, watching and working with a teacher facilitates developing age-appropriate academics and skills.||Montessori believes young children learn best through focused individual learning tasks and are self driven. Teachers strive to stay out of the way, allowing the child’s interests to drive learning.|
|Materials||Waldorf classrooms are filled with all natural materials and children are encouraged to create their own toys, learning materials, and textbooks. No plastic toys/materials, or popular culture references are allowed within the class or school.||All of the learning materials in the Montessori schoolroom were designed by Maria Montessori for a specific academic purpose.The Montessori method is multisensory and uses uniquely designed sensory materials for different subjects.|
|Society||A high goal in Waldorf schools is to give students a sense of ethics and to produce individuals who can impart meaning into their lives and contribute to the greater good of society.||A high goal in Montessori is to nurture the child’s understanding of life processes and awareness of the world and society around them, so they can develop their own values.|
|Social||The development of the young child in the social realm is as important as any other academic learning. The teacher plays a key role in orchestrating how this happens.||The development of self-discipline in the young child is key along with encouraging cooperation and respect with other, varied-age classroom children.|
|Individuality||Waldorf teachers believe children come into the world with unique personalities and gifts. The teacher’s role is to get to know the child, respect their nature, and guide and inspire them to reach their full potential.||Montessori teachers believe children discover their gifts through intellectual and personal freedom.The teacher’s role is to respect the unique individuality of the child and allow their nature and will to freely emerge.|
There is a great quote from the education blog, Education Japan, saying this about each of these educational models: “One thing is clear… Each brings a high level of love and caring and a path through childhood vitally needed by children today. Both of these paths are brilliant, full of compassion, and honoring of the child.”
We agree. But which is right for your child is up to you and your family. We encourage you to tour a Waldorf school while class is in session to experience Waldorf education first hand. Learn More HERE if you’d like to visit Spring Garden Waldorf of Northeast Ohio.
Susan Mayclin Stephenson http://www.michaelolaf.net/MONTESSORI%20and%20WALDORF.html
Home school Reosurce http://alisaterry.blogspot.com/2010/12/montessori-versus-waldorf-education.html
Education Bug http://www.educationbug.org/a/montessori-vs-waldorf.html
Our Parent / Child classes offer a warm, enriching environment for children ages 18 months to 4 years old. Parents are nearby to observe and interact as their children are guided through the morning by the gentle rhythm of circle time, creative play, snack and story time.
Parents are encouraged to discuss child development and parenting issues with our experienced Waldorf teacher.
Sessions are once a week from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. for 7 weeks
On Thursdays, Jan 31 – Mar 14
On Fridays, Feb 1 – Mar 15
On Saturdays, Feb 2 – Mar 16
- $200.00 for one child and parent(s)
- $100 for each additional child
- Families who enroll for the entire year will receive a 10% discount.
This post is particularly for our new parents, but everyone may find it handy! Like at most schools, here at Spring Garden, we hit the ground running. So here’s some basic information about scheduled events that happen early on in the school year. For more detailed info, please talk with your class teacher, the office, and other parents.
On August 24th, we have our new family orientation in the Spring Garden gym at 6pm. New parents should plan to attend. This orientation is followed by a welcome back dinner for new and existing families. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and learn about upcoming events.
August 27th is our first day of school and we begin this year, as we do every year, with the Rose Ceremony to welcome our first graders to formal schooling. The eighth grade and first grade class have special roles in this ceremony and parents from grade 1 and 8 are encouraged to attend. Oftentimes, older early childhood students will attend the ceremony as well (to see what awaits them next year), while younger students continue with their regular preschool day.
The beginning of September brings a series of meetings to the calendar. New parents should note the Class Meetings on the 13th, 18th and 25th. These are required meetings held by your classroom teacher to discuss the goings on and other news for your class.
Many new parents ask about “Parent Council Meetings.” These meetings welcome everyone, but are specifically held for the assigned parent council representatives from each class. If you are not this representative, then you do not need to attend these meetings.
On September 28, we have kite flying during the afternoon, early dismissal, and then hold our Michaelmas play at 6:30PM. Grade 1-8 parents should plan to attend and see their children participate in the Michaelmas play. Class teachers will have more information as the event draws near.
The evening of October 31st brings Spring Garden its beloved Halloween Festival, also known as the “Pumpkin Walk.” Parents play a special part in this day – decorating a themed booth for their class, where the teacher sits to pass out candy. Children also carve pumpkins for the festival that are beautifully lit and line the trail walked to collect goodies. Children walk through the school grounds with their parents to collect their treats and then are welcome to cider and snacks in the gymnasium.
On November 1st and 2nd, required Parent-Teacher Conferences are held.
On November 7th we have our new parent tea. Please come and ask questions, meet other new parents, and give us feedback about your experiences at Spring Garden.
Much of October and November, you will hear about the Children’s Festival held on November 17th. The Children’s Festival is held all day on Saturday and is a parent run function that the children adore. Each grade level is given a leadership role for a particular activity for the day. The Friday before the festival, the school is transformed into a community fair, in preparation for the hundreds of people that come through the doors to enjoy our creative spirits and partake in the day’s festivities. All are encouraged to participate.
And finally, on November 29-30, all students take part in the Advent Spiral. This ceremony is a sacred time to celebrate the dark days of winter. Volunteers are needed for setup and to make music while the children carry their candles and light the spiral.
Looking forward to an exciting start to 2012!
Here is another great article about what fairy tales can teach the young and the old. James Parson’s piece explores the lessons from educationalist and psychologist, Dr Bruno Bettelheim, who, “suggests that children need dark fairy stories to deal with their inner turmoil and fears about life and death.” Parson’s discusses why fairy tales give insights into existential questions, independent living, assurance, evil, and happy futures.
For an even deeper dive into the psychological underpinnings and importance of fairy tales, visit, http://www.endicott-studio.com, where the writings of Terri Windling, in particular, shed light on topics like orphaned heroes and transformations in these stories.
Here is an example of her keen insight on the predominance of orphaned children in folk tales.
“The orphaned hero is not, however, a mere fantasy cliché; it’s a mythic archetype, springing from some of the oldest stories of the world.
… The heroism of fairy tale orphans lies in their ability to survive and transform their fate, and to outwit those who would do them harm without losing their lives, their souls, or their humanity in the process.
… Calamity thus has a function in these tales: it propels the first hard step onto the road that will lead (after certain tests and trials) to personal and worldly transformation, pushing the hero out of childhood and towards a new adult life (the latter often symbolized by marriage at the story’s end).
… For young readers, there is a distinct brand of pleasure in inhabiting the skin of the orphan hero, tasting both the joys and terrors of operating as a fully independent being without the protective cushion (or burden, depending on the child’s circumstance) of parents standing between them and the wide, wide world beyond.
Read many more of Ms. Windling’s writings about fairy tales HERE.
If you’re interested in learning more about Waldorf education or looking for an enriching toddler program this summer, check out Spring Garden’s Parent Child classes.
The 2 ½ hour classes are for parents and their children ages 18 months to 4 years old. Class begins at 9am when everyone comes together in a warm classroom environment that imitates the rhythms and atmosphere of a Waldorf early childhood education. Roberta Miday, a certified Waldorf Early Childhood teacher, guides the young children through the morning with the gentle rhythm of circle time, creative play, snack and story time. Parents engage in home-like activities or make simple crafts while their children help them or play nearby.
Each session is from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and runs for one day a week Mon, Tues or Wed for six weeks.
- Monday Class runs from July 16-Aug 20
- Tuesday Class runs from July 17-Aug 21
- Wednesday Class runs from July 18-Aug 22
Classes are $150 for the first child and $75 for each additional child for six weeks.
Registration is due by July 1st. Register Online Today.
Waldorf educators are not alone in their call for developmentally appropriate learning in early elementary education. The month of May adds another study on the pile of research supporting the benefits to delaying overzealous academics in early childhood.
This report from New Zealand, covered by The Telegraph, says, “Pupils kept out of formal schooling until the age of seven perform just as well those subjected to normal lessons at five… In some assessments of reading skills, those with a later start actually overtook their peers by the age of 10, figures show.”
This study release comes close on the heels of recommendations by Dr Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, to delay formal schooling for bright kids.
This article summarizes his recommendations, saying, “…gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed ‘too far, too fast.’ He quoted a major US study – carried out over eight decades – that showed children’s ‘run-away intellect’ actually benefited from being slowed down in the early years, allowing them to develop naturally.”
The Harvard Education Letter harps on these issues as well. The results from this study, answer these questions: “Have kids gotten smarter? Can they learn things sooner? What effect has modern culture had on child development? The surprising answers—no, no, and none.”
This prompted Jerlean E. Daniel, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, to say: “Above all, young children need time—time to manipulate objects and ideas, time to make the information their own,” says Daniel. The Gesell study, she says, “is a resource to people who want to find greater balance in kindergarten.”
Why find greater balance? Because, as the Harvard Education Letter also reports, there are serious concerns about the current state of the early education environment, including:
– A narrow range of literacy and math skills
– Eliminated recess or physical education
– Scripted curricula
This piece says these have caused, “Several prominent early childhood organizations [to issue] reports on the importance of incorporating developmentally appropriate practice into elementary school classrooms, based on what research has confirmed about early learning.”