Montessori Vs Waldorf: Which one is better?

Updated: May 24, 2020

So which is better, Montessori or Waldorf?

For those familiar with the philosophies they will often have a favourite and sometimes fiercely defend their chosen curriculum. But if you're new to alternative education, how do you choose?

Here is my take on Montessori Vs Waldorf.

Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner
Montessori Vs Waldorf

What is Montessori or Steiner education?

To know which is best for your child, we first need to know some history.

Portrait of Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori


The Montessori philosophy was created by the Italian physician Maria Montessori.

Born in the late 19th century, Maria was an advocate change, promoting women's rights and even joining an all boys technical school in hope of becoming an engineer.

After her extensive work and research with children experiencing cognitive delays, illness, and disability, Maria went on to create the Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) where she began implementing her learnings.

The Montessori Method as it became known, was the method of education for young children that stressed the development of a child's own initiative and natural abilities, especially through practical play. This method was largely popularized in the early 20th century and today is adopted across multiple countries and nationalities.

Portrait of Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner


Steiner education or Waldorf as it's better known was created by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Born in the mid 19th century, Rudolf soon become known for his spiritual ideals founding the Anthroposophy philosophy. It aimed to develop mental faculties of spiritual discovery through a mode of independent thought and sensory experience.

The motive behind the first Waldorf school was in response to a request from Emil Molt, the owner and managing director of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart, Germany. Emil wanted to provide an education for the employees children and employed Rudolf Steiner to build and implement the curriculum based on his previous teachings.

Waldorf education as it became known gained momentum in the 1970's and is now one of the largest independent school movements in the world.

Compare the Pair

After some brief history of each philosophy you may have detected some slight differences.

Below I have identified some key features that help define each pedagogy.

Planes of Development

Though the term "planes of development" was coined by Maria Montessori, it helps to use this phrase to identify the developmental age groups in each philosophy.

A table comparing Montessori and Waldorf educations different developmental age groups.
Montessori Vs Waldorf - Planes of Development


Maria saw different learning modes in each of the four age brackets, birth to 6 years, from 6 to 12, from 12 to 18, and from 18 to 24. Finding the need for different activities to progress through each plane. Today, it's common to see Montessori toys and activities targeted to these specific categories.

Waldorf Like Maria, Rudolf also identified particu