There are so many options for preschools in Santa Ana that it can be overwhelming for a parent to decide which one is right for their child. One option to consider is whether to choose a Montessori school over a traditional school. By comparing how the two schools vary, the choice can become clearer. Here are three fundamental differences between Montessori and traditional preschools:
- Age Groups: A traditional school has classes divided by age. Typically, four-year-olds are in preschool, five-year-olds in kindergarten, etc. A Montessori school operates under the belief that children learn in developmental stages that are not defined by dates on a calendar. For this reason, classrooms consist of mixed age groups. This fosters cooperation among the children regardless of age.
- Curriculum: In a traditional preschool, there is a single curriculum for the entire class. All students are taught the same lessons at the same time and progress through the curriculum at the same rate. Conversely, individual learning is the emphasis in Montessori education. The teacher prepares the classroom with tools for self-teaching tasks. The children are then allowed to choose, based on their individual interests, which materials to work with. They progress at their own pace rather than being forced to learn at the same rate as their peers.
- Learning Styles: A teacher in a traditional preschool generally gives a lesson while the children sit and listen. The students are then told when to participate or to do a follow-up activity. The children learn primarily through listening, repetition, and memorization. For instance, a teacher might recite math tables and ask the students to repeat after her. Montessori learning takes a different approach. The primary mode of learning is through hands-on activities. Rather than memorizing number symbols, Montessori students use materials to gain an understanding of quantity so that the number symbols obtain a concrete meaning.
Deciding between a traditional and a Montessori preschool in Santa Ana can be a difficult decision for parents. However, by defining the schools’ philosophies and practices, such as classroom age groups, curriculum, and learning styles, parents are better able to make an informed choice about which preschool best suits their child’s needs.