Friday, 24 April 2009

Waldorf V. Montessori

Met up with some mom friends the other day for a chit-chat. The subject of schools came up. They had all done their research and even registered their children. I, on the other hand had not even started. Partially because we are thinking of moving in the near future, but also because it seemed so early (the little ones are now 16 months), but I guess I really should start thinking about it, by the sounds of things.

What I remember from school (in Sweden), was that it was a lot of fun. There was a strong focus on the arts and music. We played games, baked, painted, knitted and went on forest walks, as well as doing lots of singing and creating music. We had no homework until we were 10 ! Some people believe in "real" learning, ie. maths, reading, writing etc. from a very early age but I much prefer the more relaxed approach, especially in kindergarten....

I have been looking at several options but the main approaches that I am seriously considering for my little ones are Montessori and Waldorf, both using child-centred methods of teaching.
This is a very brief summary of what I believe they stand for:

Montessori - systematic learning, using special teaching tools. Children are encourage to be
"real", imagination is not encouraged. Children learn from each other, including older peers. Children learn to respect their peers' learning space ie. they learn to wait for their turn to use specific equipment/toy. Independent learning is encouraged. Toys are not for playing but for learning. Children are encouraged to learn second languages. Phonetics are used to teach children to read. Special tools are used to teach children maths.

Waldorf - Mind and spirit are the keywords behind Waldorf's teaching techniques. Creativity and art is encouraged. Imagination is widely encouraged. Toys remain unfinished, so children can "finish" them themselves. Use of TV and other electronic media is discouraged.
Children learn about social responsibility. Foreign languages and religion
classes are taught. Reading and writing is not taught until after kindergarten.

This is my basic understanding of the two different schools of teaching. Have you got anything to add ? Do you know anyone who's been to either one ? What is your understanding or experience of Montessori/Waldorf ? Leave me a comment, I am very interested in finding out more.


kestrel said...

I think the Montessori concept you have is not very accurate. My daughter did Montessori and there was lots of singing, art, even computers (fun and games, nothing serious). The school had Mandarin, Bahasa Malaysia and English in written and aural - again no strict lessons, all introductions. Lots of play time. Maybe it depends on the kindergarten. The kids loved it.

tc said...

How old is your daughter now ? Do you think the fact that she went to a Montessori school, makes a difference in her abilities/personality ?