7 Differences Between A Montessori-Inspired Preschool And A Regular Preschool?

Ms. Radha Alagappan
Mar 16, 2022
Montessori preschool

Parents have common questions when they look for an early childhood program, “What is the difference between Montessori-inspired preschool and regular preschool”?

Parents wanted to understand the difference in programs so that they choose the right school for their Kindergarteners.

Usually, there are many factors which has to be taken into consideration while choosing the best preschool which will affect your consideration for choosing programs such as where you live as there might be limited options or might be overwhelmingly abundant.

But the knowing the core differences between Montessori and regular preschools will help parents to find the right International School in Kuala Lumpur and the right program that meets their child’s needs.

So in this article, we will highlight those differences which can help parents to choose the right childhood program.

The Difference Between Montessori-Inspired Preschool And A Regular Preschool

1. The Role Of The Teacher

In Montessori school, kindergarteners have the freedom to do whatever they want (guided by their interests) but there are structures or boundaries set by teachers.

Here, the teacher follows the lead of the child and is given time to learn at their own pace.

Children have the freedom to make choices and can decide how they want to spend their time, which materials they want to choose etc but with some boundaries set by the teacher.

Teachers in Montessori classrooms play numerous roles, they prepare the classroom environment which meets the interest of each child and thus innate curiosity in them.

They observe each child and know’s their abilities and strength to grasp concepts and accordingly make them understand the concept most easily.

Also, she creates a customised plan that appeals to each child’s interests to cover the lessons.

A Montessori teacher uses their observation of child’s advancement and encourages them toward greater learning in a stress-free way.

In a regular preschool, the teacher stands in the middle of the classroom and give instructions to the children.

Teachers instruct them to carry out various activities designed for a particular day. They make sure that everyone participates in different activities as per the guidelines given by them.

The teacher in regular preschool is the instructor while in a Montessori classroom, they are the guide.

2. Structure And Design

In Traditional preschools, children will spend much of their time playing with toys.

There are different types of play areas such as imaginative play, block building, puzzles etc.

They generally have desks and chairs where students sit and fill out worksheets or do various activities scheduled for them.

In a Montessori International School of Kuala Lumpur classroom, you will see children engaged in academic work activities such as math, language, art, and geography studies.

The classroom has a dedicated shelf with work materials which is guided by the teacher as to how to use them and they are free to select that material at any point throughout the day.

Children use open space to sit or lay their work-mats on the floor. Since they have chosen it themselves, they are more excited about learning.

As per Maria Montessori years of observation and her participation in working with children has given her enough knowledge and experience on how things work for kids.

She terms children's minds as the absorbent mind which is just like sponges that soak up incredible amounts of information when given at the right time in and the right environment.

Therefore, you will see Montessori classroom has designed materials, use precise techniques to promote children's overall development.

Children are active learners in Montessori while passive learners in Traditional preschool.

3. The Classroom Environment

A regular preschool has toys, colourful walls, posters, decorations, shelves filled with toys and games, etc.

Children have access to all and have fixed play-based centres to carry out play-based activities.

In the Montessori classroom, you will notice muted colours and less visual stimulation. 

Work materials are kept on lower shelves so that they can access them easily, art or decorations are kept at their eye level, the rooms have child-sized furnishings, students are busy, active but at the same time calm and peaceful.

There is a reading corner, various seating options and workspaces.

Kindergarteners spend their time moving at their pace, choosing work that interests them, working on the lessons received by teachers and having fun.

4. Age

Traditional preschool consists of students of the same age.

No doubt it helps other children to settle down easily seeing the same age group children. It also helps them to mingle easily.

While in Montessori classrooms you will notice children of different age groups with differences of three years (3-6).

It allows the natural advancement of children which is socially, intellectually, and emotionally.

The atmosphere is friendly. children take inspiration from older kids and model their behaviour while older ones enjoy the trust imbued in them and learn the art of leadership, responsibility, and empathy.

5. Learning

In a regular preschool learning has a deadline which is checked through test scores and advancement is based on the scores.

In a Montessori classroom, children have the freedom to learn at their pace, complete the tasks of their choice whenever they feel.

Teachers of the International School of Kuala Lumpur make use of sensitive periods to provide lessons which mean teachers observe each child and check for opportunities to incorporate lessons along with it.

Their advancement is done when their understanding of the concepts is clear and not based on scores, which creates a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

Their advancement is done based on their social, intellectual, and emotional development.

6. The Curriculum

Traditional preschool has a basic curriculum where students learn from the knowledge imparted by the teacher.

Montessori Curriculum target different areas such as Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, and Cultural.

They focus on the overall development of the Kindergarteners where they are encouraged to do extracurricular activities and not to read and write from the books.

7. Special Educational Needs

Traditional preschool is not fit for children with special education needs. Their materials are predefined and they do not customise based on children's needs. 

One structure is used for all.

While in Montessori school children with special education needs are taken care of as the curriculum is customised.

Children with special needs, take a longer time to settle into the self-regulated process, so they need an environment where they are free to learn at their speed and being able to follow their interests creates engagement and improves their concentration.


Being a parent, you will want to send your child to an International School of Kuala Lumpur that nurtures them, put them on the right track and instil a love of learning.

The biggest benefit is the emotional well-being of children that comes with Montessori where they can make choices independently, have control of their learning and longer attention span.

Now, when you know the key differences between Montessori and traditional preschool programs, it would much easier to choose the best school that meets your needs and fulfil all the essential checklists.

Check options available in your area, check with your family and friends, research online, read reviews and then finalise the school for the little one.

Shortlist some schools, visit them personally to get a better idea.

No matter, what your child’s needs must be your priority.

If you are confused about your child’s needs then ask yourself questions like what program are you looking for your child? Will a particular program suit them? Are they too sensitive to high energy or different kind of activities?

Ask many questions to yourself to get a better picture of your Kindergartener's needs so that you can describe all these criteria while speaking to counsellors of schools which will help them to provide you with the best program for your child.

Happy preschool hunting!

Ms. Radha Alagappan

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