I have spent some time researching both Montessori and Waldorf philosophies, and I have found SO many benefits from both. I think the main difference in actual pedagogy is actually the colors. LOL! Well actually, that is what it looks like from the outside. The Waldorf school all pastel paint and silk with beautiful nature objects everywhere... and Montessori is set up with tables and chairs at the child's height and nicely set out primary color wheels with inviting neutrals and bright patterns that serve a purpose. But when I looked closer, on the inside, these are a few differences (and similarities) that I have found:
~ Waldorf focuses on the artfulness in everything. Many Waldorf teachers spend lots of time making the classroom or lesson beautiful, and the kids are more interested in the lessons because of this, making them have an emotional or in the case of art, body connection to the lesson. In my experience, ANY connection to the lesson that isn't strictly 'recite and regurgitate' has a greater impact on learning.
~ Montessori focuses on order. Which also brings children in. I know that my kids in particular, can't function if there is no order in a space. The act of getting a lesson out, being able to complete it in a single sitting, and putting it back when finished also creates that 'third connection' that will make learning easier and more fun.
~ That is not to say that there is no beauty in Montessori, or order in Waldorf... but the focus is a bit different. Like the difference between a deep royal blue, and a periwinkle blue... they are in the same family... but the main portion of the focus is a bit different.
~ Waldorf makes art and doing art a top priority. It brings painting, coloring, pencil drawing and other art into subjects like math... which for me, was very hard to picture before three years ago.
~ Montessori puts a lot of beautifully organized projects in front of the child and the child is naturally drawn to the subjects that you present. Many things in Montessori education are self corrected, so even the children afraid to fail will be able to successfully complete a project and have it done correctly, before they show it to anyone. This creates a wonderful ability to complete something all on their own.... which fosters a great amount of self esteem and independence.
~ Both philosophies have a strong belief that the environment is everything. A properly set up environment can bring a whole new level of understanding to a child's education.
~ Waldorf does not focus on speed of learning. Instead, it focuses on the entire child understanding the concept... body, mind, and soul. This requires more time... so children usually are a 'grade behind' whatever the public school system would put them in for their age.
~ Neither Waldorf, nor Montessori would send a child forward into another grade or lesson level unprepared. Both philosophies are child led. Which is the way I try to teach as much as possible.Personally, I think both Rudolph Steiner and Maria Montessori were brilliant! I have loved learning about them, and even enjoyed some of the books that have stemmed from their work. They give tons of ideas and tools for education that I had seen, but didn't really know how to pull them off. I think that by combining these two I have brought a boost to our homeschooling that I have really enjoyed! I mean, really... who doesn't like more beautiful art and more fun organized activities?