Re: Montessori vs Waldorf schools
I am definitely not an expert, but I want to see where this thread goes (I'm super curious too!) so I'll share what I've heard...
Montessori focuses on learning as a cumulative process. A child masters skill X, then moves to master skill Y, then on to skill Z. Kids don't jump from X to Z. So in that sense it's sort of strict. The skills (aka "work") are all quite specific. Kid 1 may spend a month trying to master, say, object sorting with a certain set of blocks, while Kid 2 does it in a week. So Kid 2 moves on before Kid 1. So while the process of montessori work is sort of strict, the timeline seems to be flexible.
Waldorf looks at learning in a more holistic way. Instead of mastering core work, kids are taught creative skills, like knitting, singing, story telling, etc. Waldorf seems to be very strict regarding outside influences. Kids are discouraged from listening to popular music, watching TV, wearing logos or corporately branded clothing. They also aren't expected to read or do much math before age 7. There's also a whole spiritual element to Waldorf that doesn't work for me personally, lots of time in nature singing about God.
I don't absolutely love either one, but I like elements of each. I don't like that montessori feels regimented, and I know one kid who is in the 3rd grade of montessori but WAY behind everyone else in his class in reading--a problem that wasn't addressed for years. I like the creativity part of Waldorf, but as an atheist the spirituality stuff bothers me. So I'm a bit torn.