Comparing Education: Montessori Vs. Waldorf

Education isn’t just about the academics – this is the main difference between traditional education and other progressive forms of education such as Montessori or Waldorf. While both Montessori and Waldorf use approaches that have been implemented successfully for over a century, their fundamentals are completely different.

First, let’s focus on the similarities.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few similarities between these progressive forms of education. Most importantly, they both focus on growing the child as a whole instead of limiting the curriculum. Both philosophies encourage children to really understand the entirety of the world around them. Their approaches to education often involve fostering independence and promoting an attachment to nature (which also contributes to their knowledge of science, geography, art, etc.). While both Montessori and Waldorf obviously have commonalities when it comes to their teaching concepts, they’re practically opposite on everything when it comes to their fundamentals.

Breaking Down the Differences


The Montessori theory focuses on learning to use materials that have purpose in the “real world.” On the other hand, the Waldorf philosophy encourages imagination and fantasy, allowing the children to use the given materials in any way.

Classroom Ages

One of our recent blogs focused on the different classroom style incorporated with Montessori education – if you’ll remember, the classrooms span an age range of 3 years (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, etc.). Waldorf is similar to traditional education with children’s ages, keeping children with their same age groups in classrooms.

Class Transition

Almost every educational philosophy varies when it comes to how often the children switch classes and teachers. With Montessori, children will stay with the same teacher for a total of 3 years. On the other hand, with Waldorf, they’re with the same teacher for 8 years.

Classroom Focus

One of the most important concepts when it comes to teaching following the Montessori method is that the focus of the classroom is on the children. The teacher is not directing activities nor are they teaching lessons, instead they’re helping individual children around the classroom to learn and explore activities on their own. In doing this, it’s encouraging each child to recognize their unlimited potential by continuously challenging them and increasing their abilities. When comparing to Waldorf theories, Waldorf seems to follow traditional education in this way as opposed to Montessori. The classroom, activities, and lessons are all directed by the teacher.

Now that we’ve covered several similarities and differences for these educational philosophies, we hope you have a better understanding of what you’re looking for when it comes to your child’s education. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear them!



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