Montessori vs. Waldorf

Main similarities between Montessori and Waldorf schools

  • Flexible curriculum: Neither Montessori nor Waldorf schools have a made-to-order curriculum. Students can choose their own activities and tasks, with guidance from the teacher. They can also mostly work at their own pace.
     
  • Decentralized learning: Montessori and Waldorf teachers rarely give whole-class lectures. Students are free to move around the classroom, work independently or in groups, and pursue their interests.
     
  • Holistic education: Both Montessori and Waldorf schools aim to educate the whole child. In addition to core academics, they place lots of emphasis on learning practical skills, developing the right character traits, and learning important values.
     
  • Concrete learning: Both the Montessori and Waldorf approach emphasize concrete learning. Children work with lots of hands-on material and learn important practical skills. Montessori is especially focused on concrete learning, at least in preschool and elementary school.
     
  • Limited technology: Montessori and Waldorf schools both restrict the use of modern-day technology. Waldorf schools may be more strict about this, though.

Main differences between Montessori and Waldorf schools

  • Academics: Montessori schools focus more on core academics, at least in preschool. Waldorf schools normally don’t introduce core academics, at least formally, until grade 1 or 2.
     
  • Work and play: Montessori schools favor work over play. Even in preschool, Montessori educators tend to discourage pretend play (or at least not encourage it). Waldorf schools, meanwhile, make pretend play and imaginative activities a major focus, especially in preschool.
     
  • The arts: Waldorf schools infuse art and music throughout the curriculum. Music, drama, dancing, the visual arts, and other artistic media, are woven into many lessons. Many Montessori schools, on the other hand, focus less on the arts, music, and imaginative activities.
     
  • Nature: Both Waldorf and Montessori schools educate kids about nature and have outdoor activities. Waldorf schools focus more on this, though.