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Unschooling vs Montessori

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Over the years, various learning trends have surfaced in the education sector. But the most talked about in town is none other than the unschooling and the Montessori methods. Unschooling is a form of homeschooling where the student leads the way in directing their learning. On the other hand, the Montessori method is a child-centered educational method where the educators encourage students to take charge of their education. However, many parents wonder how unschooling compares to Montessori since each learning method has its unique advantages. Without further ado, we set the record straight here on the differences between these two educational methods. 

Student-centric learning that complements both hard skills and soft skills

Both unschooling and Montessori are based around developing a passion for learning by encouraging students to pursue their dreams and passions as an education. But what sets the two apart is how they implement student-centered learning into a child’s mindset so that he or she knows which learning direction suits their individual styles. For example, unschooling is all about following the student’s direction since they are the leader who is calling the shots in the subject matter. If a subject is disliked, it may not be learned at all. This is very different from traditional schooling where the child could not transition smoothly to the next grade if they do not meet the standard learning requirements.

In the traditional way of learning, parents and student have to spend more time and money to improve in subjects they are weak in, such as tuition after classes. In unschooling, the learning hours are made flexible to adapt to a child’s preference combined with the bonus of forgoing a traditional curriculum. Instead, parents play the role of their child’s teacher so what and how they teach their children can cause a great impact on them. Also, children can learn many different things from classical music to even how to differentiate between a priceless abstract Piccaso to a Renaissance-era Michaelangelo painting.

On the other hand, Montessori also prides itself in encouraging students to follow their dreams and passions, but the difference is that it comes with a curriculum and teacher who guides them to the right path of learning so that they know which style of learning to choose and what suits them better. Educators do not interfere in a student’s learning process, but offer them valuable information that will help them grow. Through sharing their different perspective based on their experience as a teacher so that a student can explore the subjects themselves until they find something that suits them. By doing that, a child can still retain their freedom while absorbing all the relevant information that is beneficial to them since the teacher fully dedicates her hours to the child during the school day. 

Social skills that match with society’s needs


With the Montessori method, children learn in a prepared environment instead of a natural setting which means that the environment is designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. For example, Montessori classrooms are designed to offer lessons, activities, and tools that match the developmental needs and interests of each child. Also, a child is placed in smaller groups during lessons so that your child can learn how to socialize and cooperate with their peers before progressing into bigger groups. As these smaller groups consist of children who are a mix of different ages and intelligence, this means that your child can learn from the older children who are presumably more mature and smarter, which in return your child can impart the knowledge to the younger children or vice versa. 


Unschooling is a homeschooling philosophy where a child may spend time learning around other like-minded children who share the same primary interests as them. Or, they may socialize with adults who are an integral part of their learning process such as their parent cum teacher, for instance. However, this inequality gap leaves a huge and lasting impact on the child’s socialization structure since it is unlikely that they will get the opportunity to socialize with kids of their similar age or learn how to utilize these skills in the future.

A Well-Developed School Structure That Stands The Test Of Time


Did you know that children spend most of their time in school compared to other places? The amount of time spent in school can leave a significant effect on them long after they’ve left school and entered the workplace. This is also one of the biggest differences between unschooling and the Montessori method. In an unschooling environment, the child has a very different experience of learning due to its ambiguous academic structure. Whether the child can make it through their lessons successfully depends on their parents cum teacher’s involvement.

For example, some parents may spend less time or make adjustments when coaching their child, especially for subjects that they don’t prefer. Due to that, a child may have a less structured learning time which is essential for their personal development as it teaches them discipline. Since unschooling is based on the philosophy that children lead the way when it comes to their academic progress, some parents may find it difficult to force their children to study when they are unwilling to do so. In addition, not every unschooled child will stick to unschooling forever as they might go to a regular school after they have outgrown their unschooling phase. As a result, they may find it difficult to adapt to their school routine such as hours or time spent within a school day.


On the other hand, children spend most of their day in a Montessori school through learning things based on a curriculum. From there, they have the prerogative to choose and stay at whichever workstations that they want as long as it suits their liking. In addition, the Montessori method maintains a scheduled learning time so that the day’s lesson is made up of not only one, but a variety of interesting subjects to keep a child occupied.

Instructors cum teachers that are the cream of the crop


Since 1958, the Montessori method has brought much success to schools throughout the US with its unique and child-friendly teaching approach thanks to the revival of Montessori schools in Greenwich, Connecticut. Also, the teachers who taught in Montessori schools are the finest educators that money can buy. Before they are qualified to teach, all teachers-to-be must undergo intensive training in student-centered education methods where they learn how to give children the freedom to pursue their passion but also pass their exams at the same time. 


Meanwhile, unschooling is the direct opposite as parents are solely responsible for the education of their kids. The child-directed unschooling method may not be everyone’s cup of tea since parents still need to guide their children whenever they are faced with learning difficulties. Whether or not your child learns something properly depends on your teaching capabilities. Also, how deep the relationship stretches between you and your child. The reality is that most unschooling parents are first-timers who lack the experience and skills to teach. Since they are not trained in that particular area, they might find it difficult to be an effective instructor compared to a genuine qualified teacher. Because the success of unschooling lies in the hands of a child, but also the parent cum teacher as well since both of them go hand in hand together.

Proof of Success That Brings Academic Rewards


To date, the Montessori learning method has proved itself very effective in the field of education, mainly through its success in collecting data on test scores and college attendance. Based on a recent statistic in Dallas, it was statistically proven that children who attend Montessori schools are more academically successful and are more likely to attend college after graduating from high school compared to those who attended other local schools. Also, further findings have proved that other cities such as Milwaukee and St Louis have the highest test scores to date since they are among those who had attended a Montessori school. Even renowned public personalities like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and celebrity chef Julia Child also all endorsed the Montessori method of teaching since they credit it to their success in both life and career.


In contrast, unschooling has little data on its success given that the success rate is rather ambiguous. With unschooling, nobody knows what is going on with the child during learning time since everything is conducted behind closed doors at home. There is no qualified teacher to monitor the child or neither are there any yearly public examinations for them to sit and pass through so that they can be accepted to college. However, some argue that unschooled children can go to college provided that they study hard just like everyone.


In short, both unschooling and Montessori may be alike in many ways that you can think of, but is the learning experience and methodology of teaching that makes a difference. So our word of advice is that if you want to decide which education is best for your child, just make sure that you consider the pros and cons of each learning method before making the final decision.

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