Is Montessori Method Better Than The Others?


Montessori method gain tremendous interest among Indonesian parents nowadays. With the increasing number of early learning community and popular Montessorian mothers, Montessori become a happening trend here. Why do Indonesian mothers start to root this method?

Basically, it is something new for most of the parents. It offers fresh perspective about children education in the middle of tiredness and skepticism toward “traditional” teaching method. With various fun learning activities, Montessori easily become favorite. Especially because not only more mothers choose to homeschool their children, but also there is elated number of mothers who aware about the impotance of early learning education.

But is Montessori really better than other methods? If we want to say that it is better or even the best, then we have to have comparison in hand. Some mothers take this for granted, they do not bother to explore more about its history or philosophy. But is it something wrong? I would say, no. Every education method has its own benefits and advantages. Take a little bit here and there will not hurt, as long the children enjoy the process.

A brief overview about the methods could explain the differencess and advantages. For now, we try to compare Montessori with other methods born from Europeans such as Froebel, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf-Steiner. To compare with other methods used in Indonesia, we will do it next time.

Froebel, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf-Steiner share similar education philosophies which believe that the best way to learn for children is through play and self-discovery. So, what are the differences?

Froebel Method
Friedrich Froebel is a German educator. Thanks to the program he created, it became basis of many preschool today. Froebel pintpoint that as the first educator for children, there should be strong bound between home and school.
  • Developmental areas: social, academic, emotional, physical, and spiritual
  • Method: motor expression, social participation, free self-expression, and creativity
  • Children readiness: children develop at their own developmental pace therefore should be allowed to learn what they are ready for
  •  About play: purposeful, must be structured. There is no such an idle play.
  • Teacher role: as guide to lead understanding
  •  Classroom: carefully prepared (includes tools and materials which materialized in Froebel Giftd and Occupations), all form body movement should be encouraged
  • Criticism: too structured (rigid), too focuse on body movement

 Example of Froebel Gift: Yarn Barn (picture from here
Example of Froebel Gift: Sphere, Cylinder, Cube 
(picture from here)

Example of Froebel Occupation 
(picture from here)

Overview of The Gifts and Occupations
(picture from here)

Montessori Method
Maria Montessori developed her method after attending pedagogy course in Rome, Italy. Here is brief explanation about Montessori method.
  • Developmental areas: physical, social, emotional, language, life-skills and cognitive abilities
  • Method: “cosmic” curriculum (stresses the background knowledge about a subject), lessons focus on practical life, sensory and language.
  • Children readiness: there are sensitive/critical period which is the best time children obtain certain skills and can not backward again to this time.
  • About play: purposeful, structured
  • Teacher role: to open children potentions at best, not to  mold them. Encourage children to be independent
  • Classroom: mixed age goups class, prepared environment to stimulate sense and learning
  • Criticism: too pricey, younger children can’t keep up with the older, difficulty to adapt in conservative classroom
Montessori: Teach One Skill or Concept at A Time
(picture from here)

Montessori The Didactic Apparatus
(picture from here)

Montessori The Didactic Apparatus
(picture from here)

Reggio Emilia Method
Reggio Emilia is Italian educator which his methods based on respect, responsibility and community.
  • Developmental areas: cognitive, social (community based), emotion
  • Method: emergent curriculum which requires teacher to observe and listen to the children. Learning through exploration and discovery, children make their own meaning of a subject which attained through various long-term projects involving process of observation, hypothesis, question, and clarification. Children also encouraged to express themself in their own ways.
  • About play: purposeful, structured
  • Teacher role: researcher, co-constructor of knowledge along with children, documenter, and advocat for the children. Teacher should collect documentation of the children.
  • Classroom: designed as seen to be the third teacher. Activities designed as experiences of all sense such as touching, seeing, hearing, moving, speaking, and listening.
  • Criticism: no defined methods and teacher certification
Regio Emilia Classroom
(picture from here)

Regio Emilia Inspired Classroom: Each Table Serves Different Subject
(picture from here)

Learning Through Constructing
(picture from here)

Thinking Through Constructing
(picture from here)

Teacher as Reseacher and Documenter
(picture from here)

Waldorf Steiner Method
Another German educator that is Rudolf Steiner who implemented Jean Piaget philosophies and children development stages. One of the keys principle of Waldorf is discourangement of technology and television exposure to young age children due to enhanced creative imaginative thinking and extended attention span.
  • Developmental areas: cognitive, social, emotion, languange, physical, life-skills
  • Method: head, hands, and heart basis that stimulate all children senses. Imagination plays important part in learning process encouraged by strory telling, fantasy, art, drama, and craft
  • About play: designed, free play
  • Classroom: designed as aesthetically as it can be, filled with natural materials that stimulate free play. Multi-disciplinary approach is implemented such as art as a way to learn math. Life-skills including wood carving, sewing, gardening, sculpting, knitting, and playing musical instruments.
  •  Criticism: reading skill is taught bit late at age seven or eight, teachers are received theories about spirits and reincarnation that do not settle well for every parents.
Waldorf-Steiner Classroom
(picture from here)

Waldorf-Steiner: Art Plays Important Role
(picture from here)

Waldorf-Steiner Grade 1: Art Plays Important Role
(picture from here)

As explained, every methods has its own benefits and critics. Some parents decide to fully embrace one of the methods by selecting schools and activities in home that relevant with particular method they choose. Some other pick just some principles or activities they see suitable with them.

There are several factors needed to be considered such as family value, condition, and children interest. Parents can contemplate which method that relevant to their goal and what value they want their children taught of. As per condition, in Indonesia, there are limited number of schools that based on these four methods. It is to say that parents have limited choices. But for the homeschool parents that have more flexibility, it is helpful to know various method so they can really choose.

So, in the Indonesia context, is Montessori the best among other Europeans methods? The answer itself lies in your family and children condition. Which among these four can accomodate your children and family values at best?


Carpenter, L.  (2017). Difference Between Froebel & Montessori. Accessed through

Child Discovery Center. What Is Regio Emilia Approach. Accessed through 

Spielgaben. (2017). Comparison among Froebel, Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf-Steiner Methods-Part 1. Accessed through

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