The truth about 5 #Montessori Myths - from a parents point of view

5 Montessori Myths

I was reading a number of articles / blog posts recently talking about Montessori schooling and common myths and misunderstandings. There are even some out there stating that it’s a complete scam. It got me thinking about what I thought of Montessori schooling before I really knew anything about it and I started pulling some of those topics together. I thought it may be interesting to share with you – especially for those of you who are not familiar with Montessori at all.

Before we ever visited a Montessori school or researched it all – I was clueless and honestly thought some of the below myths were truths. I was quickly proven wrong not just through my own experience but those of friends and family. I, of course, am no authority on the topic of Montessori schooling – but I hope to give everyone a little more insight into Montessori from a parents point of view! Here are 5 Myths about Montessori.

The truth about 5 #Montessori Myths - from a parents point of view

5 Montessori Myths from a Parents Point of View

Myth #1: Montessori Is Only for the Wealthy

Maria Montessori actually started her development of the Montessori education for disabled and disadvantaged children; although, it was her goal to extend Montessori to all types of children. Today, you can find Montessori in many variations and price points. There are, of course, the “elite” (for lack of a better word) private Montessori schools, which will be charging a higher tuition rate, in return for additional benefits or the community it is set in – but you will also have the middle of the road price points.

When we had to look for new child care for Lennox at short notice, I assumed there would be no way we could afford sending her to a Montessori school. The moment we walked into the school – we were in love and thought for sure the price tag would be high – we were pleasantly surprised! To our surprise, the school we selected was no more than (ok maybe $50 more a month) all the other full-time daycares we were looking at. So don’t hesitate to stop by a Montessori school if you are interested in your child going – you may be surprised by the tuition costs. If you are going to pay hundreds of dollars a week / month for child care – you mine as well check out all your options, right? That is what learned after touring 20 daycares!

Myth #2: The Montessori Classroom is Unstructured and Children Can Do What They Want All Day.

Although the children have more freedom in a Montessori classroom to choose their “work” and activities – there is still plenty of structure and a schedule set for the day – it is not just an 8 hour free for all! They don’t have the day scheduled out down to the minute, as we experienced in a traditional daycare – but there is a schedule for the day. At Lennox’s Montessori school they have blocks of times where they are to do their “works”. Lennox can of course choose which work she wants to work on, and some days she picks something she has done over and over, while other days she is encouraged to try something new and more challenging. Along with working, they have activities such as art, spanish, dance/music, science class, etc. It to me, is the perfect mix of freedom, independence and structure. As for the Montessori classroom itself, it is organized and orderly! You can read a post I wrote last year about the classroom environment and the daily schedule.

Myth #3: Montessori Curriculum is Not Strongly Academic; Child May Fall Behind.

I find this to be the most extreme myth. Every person (child and adult) I know that has attended Montessori schooling at some point in their life, has said that they were ahead of the “norm” academic curve. This does not mean, of course, that they will always be gifted or ahead of the curve – but as a starting point – they are beyond the “minimum” requirements for say, Kindergarten or 1st Grade. A fellow Montessori mom just told me today actually, that a public school teacher was telling her just how ahead Montessori children are in Kindergarten and that entering the school system in the first grade, may actually be better (food for thought for us…).

Honestly, I didn’t know everything that Lennox would be learning as she entered into the Primary level of her Montessori school. I was amazed to find out how advanced she could really get, in just a few short years. She will cover the basics of reading, writing, social / personal skills, life skills but she will also have the chance to learn addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, geography, Spanish, science, etc. Those are a lot of skills for a 4-6 year old. I am still curious how it will all happen, as Lennox is not there yet with some of those topics – but she is learning and anything she can absorb into her open mind – is fantastic!

Myth #4: Montessori is “All Work and No Play”

This goes back to the schedule and structure of their day. There is plenty of work and academic/learning time – but their daily schedule still has plenty of time for play – such as music / dance and recess! Also, to an adult, learning how to count, pour, tie their shoe, set the table, mix colors, etc sounds like work – but to a little kid – that is still play and fun! Stacking blocks (aka The Pink Tower) from smallest to largest – is learning about size and balance, while they think they are just building a tower! To me, that statement of all work and no play is completely wrong. Your thoughts?

montessori quote

Myth #5: Montessori Teachers Are Too Strict

I think this can be a myth or truth about ANY teacher at ANY school. It’s completely up to their teaching strategy and personality. Montessori is, however, built on respect for children, adults, our planet, our possessions, everything. Respect. This sometimes can come off as being strict or not loving when you see how a teacher welcomes a child in the morning or how they interact. But if you really watch and see it day in and day out, you see how much the teachers love their children. They may not run over and give hugs (although there are plenty that still do!), they may welcome them nicely each day, interested in anything going on at home or what they have to tell them and encourage them to learn, grow and mature as a little person! At Lennox’s school and I believe in Montessori in general – being a loving and caring teacher (or “guide”) is essential. I know that each teacher Lennox has and had in the past has been different, but they all loved and cared for Lennox greatly. Lennox loved them all as well. When your child runs down the hall in the morning to get to their teacher as fast as they can, instead of giving you a hug goodbye – you know something is going the right way at school!

montessori respect quoteSo those are some myths, among many others that seem to be very common when reading about Montessori. What are you thoughts? Do you believe these are myths or truths? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with anything Montessori.

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67 thoughts on “5 Montessori Myths

  1. mel

    I had heard there was “no structure” but after a little research and reading your posts about Lennox it’s clearly not the case; and comparing it to some of the cultures and structures in schools now? I like the idea of Montessori better!

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      We love it! It is different for sure from the traditional child care centers, that is for sure, but we really have enjoyed sending Lennox to a Montessori school. We did the traditional child care in the beginning and there is nothing wrong with that, but we felt that if we were going to spend the same amount of money, we would go with something a little different, such as Montessori!

      Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Yes, Lennox loves her works too – she tells me things are “works” at home too even and when we have follow the student night, she loves showing off how she can do all the work. For them, it is so much fun.

      Reply
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  3. Kay

    This was a well-thought out and informative post. People do forget the value of play.. I think I may have incorporated some of these concepts years ago without knowing the intentional name of Montessori .

    I m in full agreement with that quote you shared, it speaks volumes.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Thank you Kay! It really is something that people do all the time at home – just “formalized” in a way at school — we love it, considering we need daycare anyway!

      Reply
  4. Bren

    Our kids went to a Montessori preschool and Montessori bible school when they were 3 and 4. Unfortunately we are a military family and have not always lived near a Montessori school. We decided to send them to a traditional school because I was not sure what the back and forth every few years. How do you think kids would adapt to the change in learning styles?

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I’m a little worried about the transition – we have to do it at either K or 1st grade. I know it will be a little up and down for a while but from what I’ve heard, they are ahead of the curve and either enter accelerated programs or level out in 1st or 2nd grade. I think no matter when you have a transition though, even from one public school to another, there is some adjustments to be made – thankfully, young children thrive for routine and adapt once they find their new routine. How old were your children when you switched from Montessori to Public – how did it go?

      Reply
  5. Clint Butler

    Being a military family who served mostly oversea’s our kids didn’t a chance to experience a school like this, I am sure if they had maybe they wouldn’t feel school is more work then enjoyment. I had never heard of these schools myself until reading this, something to consider for the grand kids should that day ever come lol.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      That’s an interesting topic… I don’t know much about Montessori schools overseas – I should look into that for my own interest! If you do have grand kids – it would be great!

      Reply
  6. Tammy

    My son use to teach violin to young ones at a Montessori school and loved it. The children really wanted to learn to play the violin and learn music. I had never heard of this type of school before he started working at one and I love the concept. Great post.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I love how they incorporate so much music as well… they don’t have violin at my daughter’s school but there is a grand piano when you walk in, and you can sign up for lessons! Classical music is playing in the halls too. Such a great environment – I bet your son enjoyed it.

      Reply
  7. Marissa D

    Wonderful list. As a mom of two energetic little boys, I feared what putting them into “traditional” school would do for them. They love to learn, but they aren’t fans of sitting still for 6+ hours a day (who is?). I found a public school that teaches in a montessori fashion near us and am in love with it. They care about the kids, the teachers want the students to want to learn, and if that means learning outside in a garden for a few hours, so be it. And my boys skills are right on with friends who are of similar ages in traditional schools, in some cases my boys are a head, and they want to keep learning every night when they come home!

    Well written, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  8. Cole

    I know a few people who sent their children to Montessori schools and I always had the impression that it was for people who wanted their kids to turn out super smart or something. I stayed home with my daughter until she started school fulltime, but when I did work part time I had family to help so I never looked into any day cares. It is interesting to know what those schools are actually like though.

    Reply
  9. jen schreiner

    hmmm.. I honestly never understood what a monastery school program runs. Thank you for clarifying. My kids are in public school. They just love it. BUT I feel many things are not as good as they use to be. Less play and more work.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I agree that some things in public schools have changed. I have no problem with public school though! My daughter will attend public once she is old enough, she is only 3 1/2 right now! Glad that your kids love it! It’s always great when kids love school 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  10. Glenda Cates

    I was one that thought they would be too expensive and so I am glad to find out this is not the case. So if I ever do need a Day Care I will make sure and check them out not that you answered some of the questions I had.

    Reply
  11. Desiree

    I never knew so many myths about Montessori schools. I never actually researched those schools for my kids.. I still have a 1 yr old that is not daycare yet and one 4yr that just left. I was paying $175 a week for my son and i thought I was getting a good deal.. Will definitely look more into this structure..

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      A lot of Montessori schools start around 17/18 months but there are some for even younger children – you should check it out for your 1 year old!

      Reply
  12. Jessi

    I have been in several different Montessori schools around the country, some of them are amazing and I love their learning through play atmosphere.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I’m really interested in what you saw as you saw them all over the country – were they all very similar or very different from each other?

      Reply
  13. Robyn R

    You bring up some very valid points. I think there is a lot of misconceptions about Montssori. My kids went to a ‘modified Montissori’ preschool and it was the best thing for them. I am still learning, but have always loved this method.

    Reply
  14. Tina Halvorson

    Heather, I don’t know about Montessori that much. I know a bit from a friend down in S. CA who was a directory of the school and a current friend who has her kids in one here in my town. I’m wondering where these myths are coming from cause I’d never seen anything like these myths are talking about. So this was an interesting blog for me. I hope you are enjoying your time at the Montessori school and am so glad you found somewhere you and your kids are happy that is the most important. Blessings to you – Tina

    Reply
  15. Kelley @ Never a Dull Day in Poland

    Unfortunately living in Europe, these types of schools do not exist per say but there is another similar program, International Baccalaureate. But like with the Montessori program the key to these programs are the teachers! If you don’t have good teachers the program is going to suffer.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      Very interesting, I’ll have to look at what International Baccalaureate schools are like – if you have a good teacher/guide then your schooling will be so much betteR!

      Reply
  16. Sarah

    I have looked forward to homeschooling munchkin for years, but if I had to send munchkin to school I would look for a Montessori school. I need to look into the method more and see how I can fit it into the idea of homeschooling.

    Reply
  17. Vivian

    I’ve never heard of this school before, but it sounds pretty interesting. I’m all for an alternative way to learn. I went to public school and did fine there, but nowadays it seems to be a breeding ground for bullying and other types of uncouth activities (at least public schools are the only ones we here about).
    If I had a child, I would definitely check it out.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I had never heard of this before either really before I had a child. I went to public school and my daughter will too as she gets older, but it has been great for her so far. You are right about bullying. I am so worried about that, I hope that the communication will be open when my daughter is older and we can curb anything that may be happening. ugh!

      Reply
  18. Crisi

    I have never heard of Montessori. My mom picked the preschool our son went to because she watched him while I was work during the day. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
  19. Candi

    I live near several Montesorri schools and really never heard anything about them before. My children go to a private school and I think what works with your child is OK I don’t think everyone fits in the same box. Different children learn in different ways.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I haven’t experienced traditional school yet with my daughter (other than when she was a newborn, so that doesn’t really count) – making the play educational helps – they really don’t know the difference!

      Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      That’s so great that they attended a montessori school. Did they switch to public school as they got older? How was that transition for them?

      Reply
  20. JanetGoingCrazy

    I worked in a Pre-K Montessori center for a little while and just loved it. The kids were so smart and independent. I rarely heard temper tantrums or crying for no reason and definitely no whining.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I agree – it is a much calmer environment. Of course, you still get some tantrums and upset children – that’s natural but it was much more orderly than some of the daycares we looked at. It amazes me how fast they learn things!

      Reply
  21. Selena

    Wow, these are interesting myths. When my sister was living in Los Angeles, that’s the school her daughter attended. There was definitely structure in the way they taught the children, it definitely wasn’t for the wealthy only, and my niece enjoyed herself there. I do believe that these types of things come down to doing your own research and homework. In LA, there are many Montessori centers in each city. They are very serious about education at a very young age. If my sister and niece didn’t move back closer to family, she would still be in a Montessori center. It was a very enriching experience for my niece and myself.

    Reply
  22. Rosanne

    This was a GREAT post. I have to admit that I am one of those people who was a little weirded out by the idea of Montessori schooling. This was based on the fact that I only know 1 person that has been educated via the Montessori method and he seemed a little “off.” Judgmental I know and silly for sure! My husband and I talked about the type of education we want to give our child when he or she arrives, and Montessori is definitely something we will consider. Thanks for putting this out there and getting the conversation going!

    Reply
  23. Melissa @ This Girl's Life Blog

    A have a few friends who swear by Montessori schools. My daughter currently goes to a public school but as a military family we move a lot and I definitely will reevaluate public schools when we move. The one she goes to now is great but there are a lot of not so great ones out there.

    Reply
    1. Heather Post author

      I agree – public school can be hit or miss. We thankfully live in a good school district so my daughter will go to public school when she is old enough.

      Reply
  24. Carli

    Thank you for this. My son doesn’t go to a Montessori school, but I have heard great things. One thing I hear constantly from elementary teachers is, children that go from a Montessori daycare/preschool to Kindergarten are almost always behind their peers who went to traditional preschool/daycare. I do not know if this is true BUT I think they miss the point. If you go from one style of learning to another, you will be ahead in some aspects and behind in others. Just as homeschooling children will be behind in somethings and ahead in others. This doesn’t not make Montessori BAD. It just makes it different. If you continue to keep your children in Montessori, then I don’t see much of a problem!

    Reply
  25. C. Lee Reed

    Thanks for highlighting this. I have always wondered exactly what Montessori teaching and principles are. We homeschool our daughter through the Florida Virtual system and often people ask about the curriculum. I think they find it easier to assume that she just goofs off all day. In reality the lessons and time it takes her to do her work, even with my coaching is much more than she ever had at a traditional bricks and mortar school.

    Reply
  26. jelli

    I am pretty uneducated about Montessori schooling in general and really enjoyed reading this post. My daughter will be 3 this year, and in Costa Rica it’s typical that by that age all kids attend school of some sort. While I in in way feel pressured to send her off (and quite frankly prefer not to just yet) it’s great to know what all those Montessori school advertisements I see might look like. Thank you for a deeper glimpse into what Montessori is all about.

    Reply
  27. Rebekah

    I do not have any experience with Montessori schools or activities, but I see projects on Pinterest all the time. I actually have wanted to learn more about this for a while. I plan on homeschooling my children and there are so many different methods and thoughts on teaching out there. Traditional textbooks, classes on computers, unit studies, etc. Thank you for posting this.

    Reply
  28. Lindsay

    I firmly believe play aids learning. As a dance teacher of 3-4 year olds, my entire class is based around structured activities that are in essence, PLAY! Sure I am a monkey, a tiger, an elephant, I count in all different languages for them, I “paint” my legs crazy colors to get them to stretch…but these creative approaches help them stay engaged, have fun, and really absorb their curriculum. I do not have children yet, but I thank you for breaking up the myths with Montessori!

    Reply
  29. Marissa

    One of my first experiences as a young teacher was in a Montessori school, and I absolutely loved it. You were right in debunking those myths above, although I must say our Montessori school is quite expensive. Being that it is the only one around, there’s no competition to make the price of tuition lower.

    Reply
  30. Anna Mujica (A Sensible Momma)

    I’ve never heard of how Montessori curriculum works before, and for some reason I just assumed a Montessori school was a catholic school, talk about being totally off! I’m intrigued and now that my daughter is going on 4, I will be looking into this further.. I appreciate a curriculum that allows a child to explore on their own! Thank you!

    Reply
  31. Holly

    I went to Montessori school when I was a child and loved it. I definitely came from a poorer background and was one of two white kids in the entire school. Oh yeah, I was also way ahead for my age level.

    Reply
  32. Samantha Cummings

    This was a very educational post; I am ashamed to admit that I’ve never heard of Montessori schools. They sound fantastic – I love the idea of a less structured classroom and more time to experience play and art along with instruction.

    Reply

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