Waldorf vs. Montessori - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 01-28-2010, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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What are the main differences between the two. I have briefly googled it and found kind of fluff answers.

We tried Waldorf and there were lots of things that I loved about it, the flow, the gentle nature of it, the connection with the natural world, etc. But I found it was too light for my son, then 1rst grade. Is Montessori more academic. I'm just not sure what the big differences are.

Right now we are using an eclectic mix of things that are working well for us but I miss the nature drawn curriculum and living classroom approach??
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#2 of 5 Old 01-28-2010, 12:12 PM
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We looked into both options for dd1. Here are the differences I boiled it down to:

1. To me, the biggest difference was that Waldorf had a very specific time line in mind for when students were expected to work on and learn certain things. Montessori is more work-at-the-child's pace oriented. There are hands-on activities for the children to explore and learn. They have a lot of freedom to work on what they are interested in with the teacher giving guidance as needed/requested.

2. The teacher stays with the children for a number of years in a Waldorf school for sake of continuity. Montessori, this can be true since the children are in a room with kids of different ages. So if the child starts in the 3-6 room and stays until 6, he/she could have the same teacher for those years, or not. In the school here, they don't guarantee they will stay in the same 3-6 year old room each year. That's not a focus for them, whereas it is for Waldorf.

I hope that helps. I am not an expert by any means, but have visited and read about the approaches in our area.

"We think we're gliding down the highway when in fact we're slip sliding away." Paul Simon
DD-7 & B-G twins, 5
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#3 of 5 Old 01-28-2010, 01:26 PM
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I am NOT qualified to fully explain this, but its something you can look into further or perhaps others will help me.

Waldorf and Montessori see the role of imagination and imaginative play very differently. My remedial understanding is this:

Waldorf: imaginative play, stories about gnomes and fairies, etc. are very important to the world of the young child. This is the world in which they are most connected at this age as opposed to the more hardened world of reasoning.

Montessori: Imagination is better served in the juvenile and adolescent years after the young child has been properly brought into the "real" world. I am not sure of this, but perhaps it is more about the young child having a framework of reality from which to deviate into imaginative play/stories.

I see the value of both sides equally and have no idea what to do about that. For now, we do some imaginative play and stories but not nearly as much as Waldorf school would do.
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#4 of 5 Old 01-28-2010, 01:56 PM
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I used to work in a Montessori and I've been looking into Waldorf for my son. Here are the main differences I've noticed:

they are both dependent on a carefully planned environment, but the environment is very different in each.

Montessori is very academic. The main goal in the early years is to get the child to develop self discipline. There is no imaginative play, it is not earth-centered. The child is given an individual lesson on how to use the "work" in the classroom, and they are then able to do the work they choose for a large portion of the day.

Waldorf seems to be more nurturing and imagination-based. More of a focus on drawing, crafting, etc. and celebrating being a child, less on progressing academically.

I think Montessori is a little too "cold" for my son while Waldorf is a little too "soft" for me. I love parts of both but neither is perfect.

mom to ds (6) + ds (3) and 11/22/09
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#5 of 5 Old 01-28-2010, 02:56 PM
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There are two main differences that manifest themselves throughout the entire curriculum.

1) Montessori believes that children are firmly rooted in reality, and Waldorf believes that children are part angel who don't fully "come to earth" until they lose their baby teeth at age 7. Many Montessori activities (which are called "work," much to the chagrin of people who think that this makes it sound dreary and dull) are having the child do real-life activities, such as pouring water, bathing dolls, scrubbing potatoes, sweeping, washing hands, tying laces, etc. Montessori believes that the child derives the most satisfaction from copying grown-up tasks, and gives children opportunities to do these sorts of tasks using specifically designed, child-sized tools. Montessori has nothing against fantasy or make-believe, there is just the idea that during the 3 hours a day that kids are in preschool, they prefer to do useful things. Waldorf uses many of these same sorts of real-life tools and activities (mini brooms, lots of cooking), but that's supposed to be firmly ensconced in a very German sort of kinder kuche kirche lifestyle.

2) Montessori believes that all children develop at their own rate, and that if you give children access to a range of developmental tools, plus a teacher who is trained to gauge where the child is at and when they're ready to move forward, they will grow in leaps and bounds when they're ready. Waldorf believes that all children develop at a very lock-step pace, based on their age. Steiner believed that until a certain age, children aren't ready to know anything about the real world (until they're 7 you're supposed to tell them that weather fairies cause rain), reading or other academic pursuits, or even use certain color crayons. If you google for information about anthroposophy and child development you can find more information.

I was really into Waldorf before I looked deeply into it and found out what it's all about. Now my daughter's at a Montessori preschool.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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