Nurturing one child at a time


The Montessori method was introduced over a hundred years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator acclaimed for her work with children.  Named after her, the method was based on her life-long research and observation of children and how they really learn. It builds on children’s own ability to learn through sensorial exploration and self-discovery.  Children are at the core.  Adults in the classroom are merely consultants or guides, hence the lead teacher is called the Directress.

What makes Montessori different?  Why should I let my older child be with the younger ones? Wouldn’t the younger ones slow my child’s progress? Or the older ones, bother my younger ones? 

Why there are no computers and TVs in the classroom? Is Montessori rigid or too flexible? Why do the classrooms look so organized and feels controlled? Why not play-based learning?  Why no imagination time?  

If you are new to Toddler (1.5 to 3 years) and Casa (2.5 to 6 years) Montessori programs, we may have got your attention with a few of these questions above.  Yes, the questions are plenty and we have tried to summarize our thoughts below to address these questions. 

Below are the key differences in the three popular teaching approaches.  We hope that these details will enable you to pick one that is most suitable for your child.  Please feel free to contact us to talk to us.  

Dr. Maria Montessori, The Founder of the Montessori Method of Education (1870 - 1952)


  • Children learn on their own through exploring purposely-designed self-guided activities.  Highest sense of satisfaction and joy for the children when activities are completed and a new concept is mastered. They learn to love learning.
  • Montessori activities are purposely designed by Dr. Montessori to appeal to the children’s inner curiosity for knowledge. And ensuring the foundation for holistic development of the child has been core to this philosophy for over 100 years now.
  • Within an age ‘group’ (eg. 3-6 years), the curriculum and grade-levels are flexible and determined by the child’s own capability and development needs as assessed by the Directress. 
  • The classroom is purposely structured with child-centric activities and lessons.  If you know where the child is, you know the activity or lesson the child is involved in. 
  • Freedom is given for each child to choose their activities and they are allowed to work uninterrupted for as long as needed. Teachers (Directresses) observe and ‘guide’ children on a one-to-one basis with different activities/lessons (individualistic learning). 
  • No rewards and punishments (this baffles the parents the most).  No “time-out” corners or reward “stickers”… only respectful, carefully considered encouragement and redirection.  Confidence and self-esteem come from a child’s internal sense of pride in his/her accomplishments and Montessori activities are designed to make learning interesting without external rewards and punishments.
  • Typically, children of three age groups are mixed in a classroom (eg. 3-6 years).  This is fundamental to Montessori as children learn on their own and from one another.  The older ones take responsibility to be kind and accommodating and the younger ones learn to observe, listen and adapt.  Skills such as respect, kindness, consideration, communication, collaboration, responsibility, and leadership all come naturally and in abundance in a Montessori environment.  
  • Children under 6 years of age, primarily learn through sensorial exploration. Even Math and Language are learnt through touch and other forms of sensorial activities first. Abstraction is learnt at the later stages in the Montessori classroom. Imagination for children comes much later.

    Since adult infulences are avoided in a Montessori classroom, imaginative play is not encouraged for this age group.  However, our after-school programs do allow for free play and are structured to be different from Montessori activities.


  • Children learn by listening to the teacher passively, memorize, do homework and take tests.  Student satisfaction varies based on grades and extrinsic rewards.  holistic development is not central to the curriculum but encouraged through extra-curricular activities.
  • The traditional method focuses on standardized tests and grades. Children learn because it is mandatory.  Arguably, although not very suitable for this age group, it is practiced because of our familiarity with it as the “traditional” form of education.
  • All students in the class are of the same age and take the same lessons. Childrens’ capabilities are judged by assessing or grading their work and not necessarily through observation of each child.
  • The classroom is not strictly structured but organized for pre-planned teacher-centric activities and lessons.  If you know the time and day, then you know what the lesson is. 
  • Teachers ‘choose’ and ‘conduct’ the lessons and activities – same lessons at the same pace for all students. It is not uncommon for a portion of children to find it difficult to keep up with the rest of the class or complete an activity within arbitrary time limits.
  • Since lessons are prescribed, some children may not follow the lessons well.  Distractions and misbehaviour are common in such situations that require extrinsic rewards (stickers or awards) and punishments (time-outs).


  • Play-based schools promote more unstructured, free-play times during the day.   Montessori schools limit free-play to only during outdoor recess, and before/after school programs.
  • Playschools offer ample time for pretend and imaginative play,  whereas Montessori schools avoid imaginative play as it involves adult influences for this age group. We mix some pretend-play during our after-school programs.
  • Montessori materials are purposely designed and self-correcting for children to explore on their own to understand the concepts.  While playschools tend to utilize more open-ended materials such as blocks or arts and craft materials. 
  • Playschool curriculum promotes learning through unstructured play with open-ended activities which can be challenging for children to grasp.


Structured curriculum and materials developed through years of observation of children by Dr. Montessori enable children to learn independently by manipulating self-correcting materials.  The attention, respect, and freedom provided for each child in a Montessori classroom and the confidence they gain by learning concepts by themselves develop a natural love for learning.

While traditional and play-based schools are alternatives, the core to Montessori is the focus on providing the foundation for holistic development by observing and guiding each child towards achieving his or her highest potential.  This is critical for our children to become well-rounded individuals who are confident, independent, and socially fit. 

With a structured curriculum focused on holistic development and the love of learning it instills, we believe that Montessori offers a proven learning environment for the development of young children.  We highly recommend that you consider an authentic Montessori school before deciding the best option for your child.

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Nurturing one child at a time
90 Lake Ave., Richmond Hill,
Ontario L4E 3G3

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