Is Montessori Bad? Pros and Cons of This Education Method

Making decisions that can shape the future of your children is stressful.  You want only the best for them and desire to give them the opportunities that you may have not had. Education decisions definitely fall into this category.  

For me, choosing the type of preschool education for Jake was has been difficult. I spent weeks researching the possible options, their pros and cons, and realized that a Montessori approach would definitely benefit him.  


Sadly I found that the preschools near my neighborhood were Montessori in name only. So, until we move closer to the target pre-school, my wife and I decided to embed Montessori principles into our home.    

I’m going to share with you the outcomes of my own objective research into the pros and cons of this respected education method. Now, I did do a lot of research so this article is lengthy, if you don’t have the time to read it all here is the gist of it. 

There is also a guide for parents who might be choosing between Montessori and Traditional education approaches. 

Frustrated Montessori Adult

Key Takeaway:
Whilst there are some inconsistencies in research findings, the benefits of Montessori principles for younger kids has significant research weight behind it. 

Criticisms of limited opportunities for collaboration, are a misunderstanding because collaboration is a natural result of mixed age groups, free ranging exploration of learning opportunities and general dynamics of the children’s house.

Inconsistencies in school and teacher quality is a challenge not only for Montessori schools but also for traditional schools, so as part of your reviews do ensure that you enquire about qualifications and how aligned their curriculum is to the original principles. 

And sadly cost and accessibility issues can prevent children who would benefit greatly from a Montessori education from accessing it.

However, these concerns are not universally shared, and many families find great success with the Montessori method. And indeed there are many great people who had a Montessori upbringing. 

Ultimately, choosing the right education for your child needs to take into account their individual needs, learning style, and parental preferences.

Positive Effects of Montessori on Children

I found that the impact of the Montessori education method on children is a topic of interest and discussion among educators and parents alike. I’ll go through some of the key aspects and examine the overall effect of Montessori on children.

Promoting Independence and Confidence

One major benefit attributed to the Montessori method is its ability to promote independent learning. This is a skill that is incredibly valuable as an adult and nurturing this in children provides an edge later in life

One of the core principles of the Montessori method is to promote independence and self-sufficiency in children. By allowing children to make choices and take responsibility for their learning, the Montessori approach nurtures their confidence and self-motivation.  

In a Montessori classroom, rather than relying on passive learning through lectures or predetermined lessons, children actively engage with hands-on materials. Choosing their activities from a variety of materials provided. They are given guidance by teachers but are largely responsible for their own learning journey. 

This approach fosters a sense of independence and self-confidence in children as they learn to make decisions and take ownership of their education.

They have the freedom to explore and work on tasks that align with their interests and developmental stage. This  gives them a sense of ownership over their education, fostering a natural curiosity and love for learning

The self-paced nature of learning and attention to individual needs provides the additional support and scaffolding that can be of great benefit to children with special needs.

They may select a task such as pouring water from one container to another, engaging in hands-on exploration and problem-solving. The child learns practical life skills AND gains confidence in their abilities to complete tasks independently, through this process.

“I think the biggest long-term impact I have seen is that Montessorians remain perpetually curious about the people and the world around them, seeing learning as an enjoyable life-long process rather than a burden that ends when a school bell rings.” Karen Ricks, the founder of an international Montessori school in Japan,

By providing opportunities for self-directed learning and emphasizing personal responsibility, Montessori education prepares children for real-world challenges where independence is valued. However, it is important to consider that promoting independence should not overshadow opportunities for collaboration or discourage creativity.

While the Montessori method excels at developing independence and confidence in children, there are potential concerns regarding other aspects of their educational journey. I’ll get into these later in the article. 

Suitability for Preschool-Aged Children

When it comes to the Montessori method, my research found that the Montessori method is especially suitable for preschool-aged children. 

After all, Dr. Maria Montessori developed this educational approach with young learners in mind, emphasizing the importance of providing them with a prepared environment that supports their developmental needs. 

This tailored approach ensures that each child’s needs are met, allowing them to learn at their own pace without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. 

Imagine a classroom filled with curious and energetic three to six-year-olds… 

Montessori classroom

In a traditional setting, structured activities and rote learning might be the norm. 

However, in a Montessori environment, young learners are provided with an opportunity to engage in self-directed activities that align with their natural developmental needs. 

Montessori classrooms are carefully designed to foster independence and encourage exploration. Materials are arranged on low shelves within easy reach of young children, enabling them to choose what they want to work on (developing their decision-making skills). 

The ‘free range’ nature of the classroom and select learning materials at their own pace allows children to naturally develop concentration, coordination, and a sense of personal responsibility. 

Through hands-on learning experiences, children develop not only academic knowledge but also practical life skills such as pouring water, buttoning clothes, or preparing snacks. 

This emphasis on both intellectual and practical development lays a strong foundation for future learning.

Additionally, the Montessori method fosters a sense of community within the classroom as children of different ages learn and collaborate together. Younger children observe and learn from older peers while older ones reinforce their knowledge by teaching younger ones. 

This multi-age interaction enhances communication skills, empathy, and social understanding.

Finally research has shown that this child-centered approach promotes cognitive development, social skills, and emotional intelligence among preschoolers. 

According to a 2006 study published in the journal Science, by the end of kindergarten, Montessori students performed better on tests of reading and math, showed improved social skills, and were more creative and courteous than those in conventional schools.  

Now, while the Montessori method is certainly an effective approach for preschool-aged children, it’s important to note that its effectiveness in later stages of education is still somewhat debatable. 

As children grow older, they may need more structure and guidance. Transitioning from the self-paced and individualized learning environment of Montessori to the structured curriculum and standardized tests of traditional schools can be challenging.

Let’s take a look at some of the negative aspects that critics often raise.

Negative Aspects of the Montessori Method

While the Montessori method offers numerous advantages, there are potential drawbacks. So before making an informed decision about this educational approach it is important to understand the potential negative aspects.

Inconsistency in Research Findings. 

One common criticism of the Montessori method is the inconsistency in research findings regarding its effectiveness. 

Some studies have shown very positive outcomes and benefits for Montessori-educated students. 

A study by Angeline Lillard at the University of Virginia published in 2017, Montessori students showed significant advantages over non-Montessori students in both academic ability and social cognition skills.

While others have identified similar or even worse academic performance compared to students in traditional educational settings.  As an example, A study from 2018 indicated that transitioning Montessori students to standard classrooms might foster lower academic achievement compared to children who remained in traditional environments throughout their schooling. 

This inconsistency raises questions about the true impact of later years Montessori education on long-term academic success.

However a 2023 systematic review of existing studies (meta-analysis) identified that Montessori education had small but meaningful positive effects on learning outcomes compared to traditional education approaches

Limited Opportunities for Collaboration?

Critics also argue that the Montessori method places a greater emphasis on independence and self-sufficiency rather than collaboration and creativity. In traditional classrooms, students often engage in group projects and activities that foster teamwork, communication skills, and the development of social bonds.

Classroom art

In a typical Montessori setting, each student works independently with their chosen materials and activities. Detractors suggest this emphasis can limit opportunities for collaboration among peers. 

While independent work allows children to develop self-motivation and concentration, it may not provide as many chances for social interaction and collaborative problem-solving.

However, it’s important to note that many Montessori programs actually do incorporate group activities and encourage peer interaction during specific times, such as during circle discussions or cooperative games and projects.

Additionally, multi-age classrooms in Montessori schools provide opportunities for older students to mentor younger ones, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

By intentionally designing activities that require collaboration or offering group projects periodically, children can still develop essential social skills while maintaining the benefits of independent learning. 

You can also play a role, as a parent, by encouraging extracurricular activities that encourage collaboration and teamwork (such as team sports, musical groups and clubs).

By recognizing the potential limitations and proactively incorporating collaborative experiences, Montessori educators can provide a balanced learning environment that fosters both independent learning and opportunities for collaboration. 

The Sometimes Challenging Transition to Traditional Schools

Montessori classrooms operate on a unique educational approach that fosters independence, self-paced learning, and individualized instruction. 

The differences in classroom structure, teaching styles, expectations, and assessment methods can be jarring for students accustomed to a more self-directed learning environment. 

Montessori kids may struggle adapting to a more rigid schedule, following directions from a single teacher, or meeting standardized testing requirements.

Geometry and mathematics materials in a Montessori classroom

An example of this can be seen in the difference between math instruction in Montessori and traditional schools. 

In Montessori, children use hands-on manipulatives to explore mathematical concepts at their own pace. This develops a deep understanding of math principles. However, transitioning to a traditional school where math is taught through lectures and worksheets may require an adjustment for Montessori-educated students. They will need time to become comfortable with the new teaching methods and adapt their problem-solving approaches.

It’s important for educators and families to provide support during this transition period. Teachers should be aware of the differences in instructional methods and offer guidance as students adjust. Parents can also play an active role by communicating with both the Montessori school and the new traditional school to ensure a smooth transition.  This will certainly help to improve the transition.

It’s also worth noting that while there may be initial challenges, many students who have come from a Montessori background thrive in traditional schools due to the self-discipline, love for learning, and problem-solving skills they have developed through the Montessori approach. With time and support, they can adapt and excel in their new academic environment.

Cost and Accessibility of Montessori Schools

Unfortunately there are socioeconomic accessibility issues with Montessori schools. Research published in 2016 found that among low-income students, those attending public Montessori schools had higher math and science scores than their peers attending traditional public schools. 

However, sadly data from the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (2014) indicated that less than 5% of all Montessori schools in the USA are public, revealing access to this education method might be limited for certain populations due to cost barriers.  

However there is a lot of effort being made to increase the number of charter schools available

The cost of education is often a limiting or deciding factor for parents. While Montessori education offers unique benefits, it can also be more expensive compared to traditional schools. Tuition fees can vary significantly depending on various factors such as location, school reputation, and additional services offered.

The average cost of Montessori education in the United States can range from $4,500 to $17,000 per year per student, which includes tuition fees, additional fees, materials, before and after-school care, transportation, and meals. 

Do note, these figures are estimates as tuition costs can differ based on regional factors. For example, Montessori school tuition is typically higher in the Northeast region (upwards of $30,000 per year … Ouch) compared to the Midwest or Southeast.

However, despite the higher cost associated with Montessori schools, it’s essential to consider the potential long-term benefits they provide. Montessori education focuses on fostering independence, creativity, critical thinking skills, and a love for learning. These qualities can have a profound impact on a child’s development and set them up for success in later life.

Inconsistent Application of Montessori Principles Across Schools.

Another concern is the inconsistent implementation of Montessori principles across different schools. The Montessori method was never patented or trademarked.  Dr. Montessori dreamed her work would be the beginning of an important movement in education. 

Happy class of young pupils with their young female teacher working together in a classroom sharing a desk

While this did lead to the development and evolution of her work, it has also opened the door for misrepresentation and erroneous practices in some schools and classrooms. 

You see, not all institutions strictly adhere to Dr. Maria Montessori‘s original educational methods. 

Adaptations in curriculum and practices can vary widely, leading to a lack of uniformity in the educational experiences provided under the name of “Montessori”. 

For example, some schools do not have mixed age groups and do not provide extended blocks of time for the students to complete their work. 

Impact of Teacher’s Qualification

Teacher quality drives learning outcomes in all educational institutions. 

The Montessori method requires educators who have completed specialized training to understand and implement the approach effectively.  Unfortunately, there are many schools that do not have teachers trained through accredited programs.

Montessori teachers undergo rigorous hands-on certification programs that equip them with a deep understanding of child development principles. They learn how to balance independent exploration and growth with offering guidance when needed. 

Montessori certified professionals are brilliant at observing and responding to the unique needs and interests of each student. 

The impact of qualified Montessori teachers goes beyond the classroom. 

Montessori Teacher

Their profound understanding of Montessori philosophy enables them to effectively communicate with parents and guide them on how to continue the Montessori principles at home

Collaboration between teachers and parents creates a cohesive approach to education that benefits the child holistically.

While the qualifications of Montessori teachers play a vital role in delivering high-quality education, it is equally important for parents and caregivers to actively engage with their child’s learning journey.

Furthermore, I’m sure you can attest that criticisms of teacher and school quality are not only a problem for Montessori schools.

To wrap this section up. Whilst there are some inconsistencies in research findings, the benefits of Montessori principles for younger kids has research weight behind it. 

Criticisms of limited opportunities for collaboration, are a misunderstanding because collaboration is a natural result of mixed age groups, free ranging exploration of learning opportunities and general dynamics of the children’s house.

School and teacher quality is as inconsistent in Montessori schools as it is in traditional schools, so as part of your reviews do ensure that you enquire about qualifications and how aligned their curriculum is to the original principles. 

And sadly cost and accessibility issues can prevent children who would benefit greatly from a Montessori education from accessing it.

Comparison: Montessori vs. Traditional Teaching

The debate between Montessori and traditional teaching methods has sparked discussions among parents, educators, and experts alike. To gain a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of the Montessori education method, let’s compare it to traditional teaching.

The Prepared Environment:

Montessori classrooms: spaces are intentionally designed to suit individual needs, with simplicity and organization as guiding principles


Traditional Classrooms: often involve long periods of sitting, listening to lectures, or working on worksheets. 

It’s important to consider how your child thrives best and which environment aligns with their learning style.

Respect for Natural Development:

Montessori Education: recognizes each child’s unique interests and natural developmental pace


Traditional Education: expects children to follow the same path, advance at the same rate, and focus on a standardized curriculum. 

Reflecting on your child’s individuality and how they learn most effectively will play a crucial role in decision-making

Teaching Style:

Montessori teachers: act as guides rather than dictators in the classroom. They create order, encourage curiosity and independence, and observe how children handle tasks


Traditional teachers: generally dispense knowledge and expect adherence to their instructions.. 

Reflecting on your child’s individuality and how they learn most effectively will play a crucial role in decision-making


Montessori education: greatly values independence. Students are encouraged to work at their own pace and follow their interests. 


Traditional settings: Often enforce uniform lessons and pace, potentially stifling independence and creativity. 

Considering whether your child thrives in a self-directed learning environment or requires a more structured framework can guide your decision-making process.

Learning Materials:

Montessori classrooms: specialized sensory materials such as wood, glass, and metal are commonly used to stimulate all the senses. Learning becomes hands-on, engaging students more fully with the materials.


Traditional Classrooms: reliance on lectures, workbooks, textbooks, and testing is more prevalent.

Reflecting on your child’s learning style and how they engage with different materials can help identify which approach may be more beneficial.

Handling of Mistakes:

Montessor education: views mistakes as opportunities for learning. Through self-correcting materials, children learn to recognize their own mistakes and work towards mastery. 


Traditional settings: often reward perfection but may punish mistakes. 

Thinking about how your child responds to making mistakes and whether they flourish in an environment that embraces growth mindset can be a valuable consideration.

Age Groups Vs Year Groups

Montessori schools: utilize age groups rather than grade levels solely determined by age. This multi-age grouping based on development promotes leadership among older children and encourages curiosity in younger students.


Traditional settings: primarily relies on grade levels determined strictly by age. 

Reflecting on how your child interacts with different age groups and benefits from peer relationships can influence your decision.

It’s important to remember that each child is unique and what works for one may not work for another. 

The decision between Montessori and traditional education should be based on careful consideration of your child’s personality, learning style, strengths, and weaknesses. 

Researching local schools, visiting classrooms, speaking with educators, and gathering input from other parents can provide valuable insights that aid you in making a well-informed decision.

A Guide for Parents: Choosing between Montessori and Traditional Education

As parents, making decisions about our children’s education is no easy task. When it comes to choosing between Montessori and traditional education methods, there are several key factors to consider.

  • Firstly, reflect on your child’s unique characteristics and needs.
    Consider their personality traits, learning style preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Some children thrive in independent, self-directed learning environments, while others require more structure and guidance. Understanding your child’s individuality will help guide you towards the most suitable educational approach.
  • Next, evaluate the philosophy of education that aligns with your values and goals…
    for your child’s development. Montessori education emphasizes hands-on learning, independence, and fostering a love of learning. Traditional education often focuses on standardized curriculum and testing. Think about what core principles are essential for you and what type of educational experience you envision for your child.
  • Consider the learning environment that would be most conducive to your child’s growth.
    Montessori classrooms are known for their prepared environment, simplicity, and orderliness. Traditional classrooms often involve more traditional teaching methods like lectures and worksheets. Reflect on which setting resonates with your child’s needs and whether they can thrive in a particular learning atmosphere.
  • Evaluate the resources and materials available in each educational approach.
    Montessori classrooms usually provide specialized sensory materials to engage students in hands-on learning experiences. Traditional schools typically make use of textbooks, workbooks, and other traditional instructional resources. Reflect on how your child engages with different types of materials and sensory experiences to determine what suits them best.
  • Lastly, consider your practical constraints such as location, cost, and availability of options in your area.
    Montessori schools may be less prevalent or have specific admission requirements, while traditional schools are generally more widely available. Weigh these practical considerations alongside the other factors discussed above to make an informed decision.

Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing an educational method for your child. What matters most is finding an approach that aligns with your child’s needs, nurtures their individuality, and supports their holistic development. 

The most important activity is to take the time to research, visit schools, speak with educators, and gather insights from other parents to make the best decision for your child’s educational journey.

I hope the article was useful to you.  Do reach out to me at [email protected], I would love to hear your feedback.

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