Important Differences Between Public and Montessori Education

14, Jan 2021

If you are on the fence about whether to send your child to public school or go with Montessori education, there are a number of factors to consider that can help with your decision. On the surface, it may seem like most educational options are basically the same. The reality is, however, that there several significant differences between public and Montessori education. The curriculum, classroom design, and administrative structure of the programs are notable areas to explore as you look for the differences between public and Montessori education.


The curriculum in Montessori programs is based on the teachings of Maria Montessori. One of the Montessori Philosophy's core tenets is that children are naturally smart and can learn if provided with the right opportunity. Each child is treated as an individual when it comes to creating a curriculum. The teacher in the Montessori classroom creates a unique learning plan for each student in the classroom. The curriculum in Montessori education is designed to be tailored to the needs of each student.

The curriculum in public programs is designed to provide all students with the same education. In an effort to make sure all students have access to the same education, public programs focus on reaching the highest number of students. This means that the vast majority of students will be presented with the same information in the same way.

Classroom design

The classroom design in a Montessori school is much different than what you will find in a public school. The Montessori classroom is set up with stations that allow students to move around and engage with concepts in different ways. For example, there may be a station that has physical items students can use to practice math concepts. The classroom design in public programs is typically set up with tables or desks where students complete worksheets and listen to instruction coming from the front of the classroom.

Administrative structure

There is typically an in-depth administrative structure at public schools. There are many different roles in public school administration. Ideally, this design aims to create a system of checks and balances to ensure that the school is run correctly. However, when it comes to making changes and bringing in innovative programs, public schools' administrative structure makes it difficult for change to happen. There are so many layers of approval and permission required that many of the ideas and programs never have a chance for implementation.

The administrative structure in Montessori programs is set up differently than public programs. As with classroom size, the number of people involved in decision making is intentionally kept small in Montessori programs. The teachers have the flexibility to tailor their instruction to the needs of the students. There is no long approval process required as long as the instruction aligns with the underlying tenets of the Montessori Philosophy of education.

The differences between Montessori education and public education are not limited to the ones that are outlined above. You can continue to learn about how these programs differ as you explore options for your child's education. One of the best ways to see the differences in the Montessori classroom is to schedule a time to observe a class. Doing a classroom observation at a Montessori program will allow you to see the curriculum and classroom design implementation firsthand.

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