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Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

I am posting in hopes that there are teachers out there who can help shed some light on the subject. During all my education courses in college, we probably spent a total of 5 minutes (give or take) on the Montessori method.

I have tried reading about Montessori online and in a few books from the library over the past several years, but I can never seem to fully understand it. My patience on the subject wanes easily, because there seems to be no straightforward answers.

Can someone give me a comparison of the Montessori method versus something more along the lines of the Creative Curriculum?

Do you feel it follows the basic principles of Early Childhood Education as NAEYC promotes it?


Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

I am still in school, and while I have no firsthand experience with Montessori schools, we have discussed it. I did work in 2 head starts that use the Creative Curriculum. One of my classmates did her placement in a Montessori school. The most basic thing about Montessori method is that it is completely child-directed. The teachers are there to serve solely as facilitators to the child's learning. The children are given access to materials and are allowed to freely pursue their own interests.

I know that in the Head Starts I worked in, when we discussed a topic (let's just say birds), we were not in any way shape or form to help or tell the child how to draw a bird. We just supplied the materials and let the children "have at it." I do think, from what I know, that there are some similarities between the two.

In all honesty, I personally believe that when it is done right (as I believe it was being done in my classmate's setting) Montessori schools do follow the basic principles as set out by the NAEYC. In some ways, I think that is a much healthier environment for children than most preschools these days. Also having said that, knowing my own personality, I think I would have a hard time teaching in a Montessori school, but I really like their methods!

What EXACTLY are you looking for to be compared? We did cover it quite a bit in both my Intro to Educ class, as well as my curriculum class -- I can try to delve a little deeper into my textbooks if I know what it is you are looking for.


Thanks so much, Ellen. My niece attended a Montessori center for PreK, but I was living out of state at the time and couldn't visit.

I guess some of the main things I'm wondering about are how they handle art activities, literacy, and discipline.

I visited an in-home Montessori preschool once that we were considering for my daughter, but the owner either didn't know much about Montessori or just couldn't convey her ideas very clearly.

I was taught Creative Curriculum in college, and that line of thinking is what I've mostly followed. Now that I am moving beyond my AAS degree and trying to complete a 4-year degree, I want to know which area to head into.

I think I might agree with you... I'm not sure I could work in a Montessori classroom. The materials seem to (for lack of a better word) mechanical for me. I started in Art Education, so I'm very into everything creative and messy.

Do you know anything about Waldorf schools (Steiner)? Someone from Australia raved about it, but it seems more common there.

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

Wendy - I haven't forgotten you, but have been consumed w/ a wedding cake and helping a friend with her wedding... will try to share some of the info I have this weekend....

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

I have worked in a Montessori School and ECEAP/Head Start Classes as well. I agree with the Montessori giving the children choices, enhancing self esteem, and learning at their own pace. However Their respect for adults needs to be improved upon. They view themselves as having as much or perhaps even more authority as adults this would include parents.

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

I'm a Montessori teacher. It isn't easy to summarize the entire method in a few words, but I'd like to try to clarify a few things.

It's true that the children decide which of the many materials on the shelves to use at a given time, but there are some ground rules. If a child doesn't know how to use a material, he should ask a teacher for a lesson. If someone is concentrating, don't disturb them. Most of all, children are encouraged to show respect for themselves, their classroom, their friends and their teachers. A well-directed Montessori class is usually marked by an atmosphere of mutual respect between adults and children, and between peers.

The entire system is based on the child's developmental needs at each stage of growth. The latest brain research is discovering anew what Dr. Montessori learned by observing kids a century ago.

Some curriculum areas you won't find in other schools include Practical Life, where children learn to use real kitchen gadgets, brooms, screwdrivers and the like while building their fine motor coordination, and the Cultural materials that address inner and interpersonal peacemaking as well as a remarkable amount of geography.

I hope this answers some of the questions floating around out there.

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

My daughter was in a Montessori class for three years - pre-K thru K. Some people think there isn't any structure in Montessori and the kids just roam around doing what they want. My understanding is that the curriculum is mastery based. Children must have a lesson on how to use the different materials, and they are taught sequences or specific ways in which to use them. The children do not proceed to the next level of lesson until they have mastered the current one. The teachers keep records of their progress, which parents can view at any time. My daughter is a tactile learner and the Montessori approach worked very well for her. I put her in a public school in first grade. Although it was in an outstanding school district, her phonics skills deteriorated and we ran into some other challenges. Quite possibley she would have fared better if we had kept her in Montessori.

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

Thanks for your input and info!! I appreciate it.

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

Hi all,

I'm a little late to this discussion (just joined BAM!) and hope this thread is still "open" and my input is somewhat useful.

First, I'm not an early childhood educator, but a parent of three children, ages nine, five and four. I recently co-authored a book that takes the best tricks and techniques great early childhood teachers use in their classrooms, and adapts their wisdom for parents to use at home. So I am pretty familar with the NAEYC markers of a good early childhood program and how most really good early childhood programs work.

Because my oldest daughter (now age 9) has been having difficulties in her traditional school environment, I began looking at other schools last winter, and ultimately decided to send all three of my kids to a Montessori school. This means my younger two (ages five and four) are in a Montessori classroom now, after spending last year in a wonderful play-based preschool program. So I'll try to share here some of what I've seen and learned.

First, not all schools that call themselves "Montessori" are accredited by the American Montessori Association (I may have that name slightly wrong) or by the International Montessori Association (ditto). People can debate whether or not this is important, but I'll at least warn that you probably shouldn't use a non-accredited Montessori school as a basis for comparision with accredited ones.

From what I've learned and seen: the Montessori program is based on the child choosing learning materials that appeal to him and the teacher does a lot of careful observing to see each child's strengths and weaknesses, where they excel and where they need help. A Montessori teacher, from what I've seen, would not push a child toward a specific activity, but, for example, since my 5-year-old son was struggling with his writing skills and therefore avoiding those activities, his Montessori teacher did guide him toward materials that would be appealing and helpful to him. He is much more likely now to do the writing-based activities he had avoided before.

My 4-year-old daughter is very timid in the classroom, and her teacher has given her a great deal of room to become comfortable. She did not urge her to join in activities, but allowed her to observe. However, as the school year went on and Lucy became more comfortable but still remained on the sidelines, her teacher again did guide her toward activities, offer her more "lessons," and generally is helping to become more engaged in the classroom. She also, for example, observed that Lucy participates more when she's in a small group, so she added more small group activities to help engage her.

In their classroom, they do have circle time and group time for things like singing songs and doing calendar activities. But for large chunks of the day, the children are allowed to choose from the materials and become engaged in learning activities that interest them. So far, my son has done things like create a small book showing and labeling various land forms (island, peninsula, inlet, etc.), done clock activities and made and labeled maps of the United States and the continents. Rather than having "play" materials, all of the materials teach a concept -- but they're also engaging and fun to play with.

They also teach letters a bit differently in the Montessori classroom, teaching the "sound" the letter makes rather than its "name." So Jack might look at a B and rather than saying "BEE" he'll say "Bu" (Does that make sense? ) So while he still struggles to sing the "alphabet song" correctly, he can read short words and sentences ("Matt sat and sat.").

I was also very happy with their wonderful play-based preschool, and they might not be in a Montessori school if not for the fact that I felt it was the best environment for their older sister. But with that said, I'm very very happy with the approach in the Montessori classroom and think a good Montessori classroom is similar to a good play-based preschool in the respect that the children are respected, they're allowed to make choices as long as they're not disturbing the whole group, and most importantly of all, they're learning -- not just about academics, but about themselves and about being part of a community.

I can go on and on, so let me know if you have more specific questions I might be able to address.

(I think my daughter captured the biggest difference of all when she came home after her first day and told me: "I looked and looked, mommy, but I couldn't find a Mr. Potato Head anywhere!")

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

It's never to late to join a discussion! Thanks!!

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

Please take a look at our Facebook which you can access through our web page The New Montessori Pre-school Worthing Sussex we have made a DVD only 11 minutes long which explains the methos beautifully

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

Excellent Montessori teachers now are in new American preschools. There are usually FAQ pages where you can post your questions to teachers and preschools.
Besides, I recommend you looking through the curriculum before you decide to bring your kid into the preschool.

Re: Montessori vs. Creative Curriculum type approaches: teachers/professionals please chime in?

Montessori education is driven by an ambitious aim: To aid the child’s development into a complete adult human being, comfortable with himself, with his society and with humanity as a whole. Read more about Montessori method here: