Comparison Between Montessori and Early Years Foundation Stage

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The Ways In Which The Ideas Of Montessori Have Influenced Current Early Years Provision In England and Wales


The principles advocated for by Montessori were of great impact and have continued to enact relevance in today’s approaches to early childhood education. Indeed there are major similarities between Montessori principles and the major themes of the early year’s foundation stage. Indeed there is an imminent correlation between the themes and principles that guide EYFS and those that provide the basis of Montessori practice (Roberts-Holmes, 2012). However, even though England and Wales follow a similar structure in the schooling structure there are differences in the school system particularly when children begin schooling.

One of the pioneers whose principles affected early childhood learning is Dr. Montessori. Her involvement in education began with the interest in working with children with special needs and those with mental disabilities. In her work, she developed special equipment to assist children in course of learning assisting them to learn through movement (Marshall, 2017). The teaching equipment was designed depending on the developmental needs of the children as well as the specific resources. Her accomplishment was in the establishment of schools for the disadvantaged with working parents. Her teaching methods were based on observation of the children to device ways in which their specific needs to be addressed (Pate et al., 2014).  

Montessori pioneered child-centered education and came up with a holistic approach whose aim is to develop the child’s social, physical cognitive and emotional growth. In this regard, she developed various principles that have been incorporated into today’s systems of education (Al, Sari and Kahya, 2012). She believed that the early years of a child are the first plane of development and it is the period that the children have the highest capacity of learning. Additionally, she asserted that the children are born with the intrinsic ability and readiness to learn and with the choice of learning activities they can become independent learners.

In her principles, Montessori provided that children learn best through sensory-motor activities that involve working with materials to foster the development of cognitive power through direct experiences. In the same regard, she noticed that children may have sensitive times particularly when they are susceptible to various behaviors (Lillard, 2011). In this system of learning the teachers are perceived as enablers whose roles are nurture  and care for the children as they teach them to become independent learners (Dodd-Nufrio, 2011). In this regard it is important to provide the children with uninterrupted blocks of time to facilitate their full involvement in the activities that they are interested in.

The Montessori principles have been integrated in early year foundation stage EYFS system in England. Indeed there is a strong connections in the themes that ground EYFS and the principles that underpin the Montessori practice (Jones et al., 2008). In this regard here are four main similarities in Montessori practice and EYFS.  First each and every child is considers as a unique being who can be a competent learner with unique capabilities of resilience, self assurance and confidence (Lillard, 2011). Secondly, positive relations with parents and other key people have a major influence in the capability of children to become strong and independent. Thirdly, an enabling environment is necessary to provide a supporting and extending  role in the learning and development of the children (Dodd-Nufrio, 2011). Finally, the two systems acknowledge that learning and development of children occur a different rates depending on the capability of the children (Marshall, 2017).

 There are parallels between the Montessori principles of early childhood education and EYFS. The major emphasis of EYFS  is  active learning for the children accompanied with learning through experience (, 2014). most importantly both principles advocate for observation of children as central to learning and development of the children (Viola and Noddings, 2006). In the Montessori principles of learning, the teachers are not the central focus in education. Rather their role is to act as the facilitators guiding the children to meet their actual abilities interests and needs. therefore they lay foundations for the independent learning of the children (, 2014).

The Early Years Foundation Stage puts emphasis on children becoming active learners in the course of the learning stage. The aim is to increase the attention of the children to the particular environment (Lillard, 2012). Additionally, there is a difficulty that is provided by the Early Years Foundation Stage in that there are statutory targets to the people who are seeking to have comprehensive support learning (Ahmadpour and Mujembari, 2015). For this reason, there is need to ensure that children activities are organized and planned. In this regard, the facilitators can sometimes be found to dictate the activities that are conducted by the children (, 2014).

Alignment of Early Years Foundation Stage with the Montessori system has made it simpler to provide clear objectives for the children. Although the EYFS and EYFP overlap in terms of the learning principles. The major difference in the education between EYFP and EYFS  is that in Wales children start the reception in September before they are five years old (Bradbury, 2014). In England however the education structure is EYFS the children begin primary education before they are five years old (Soundy, 2009).  In England the foundation stage takes account of preschool, nursery and the reception classes (Department for Education, 2014). In Wales, however, the foundation stage takes children from age 3 to end of year 2.


Ahmadpour, N. and Mujembari, A. K. (2015) ‘The Impact of Montessori Teaching Method on IQ Levels of 5-Year Old Children’, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.09.037.

Al, S., Sari, R. M. and Kahya, N. C. (2012) ‘A Different Perspective on Education: Montessori and Montessori School Architecture’, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.05.393.

Bradbury, A. (2014) ‘Learning, assessment and equality in Early Childhood Education (ECE) settings in England’, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2014.912897.

Department for Education (2014) Early years (under 5s) foundation stage framework (EYFS) - Publications - GOV.UK, Schools, Colleges and Children’s Services - statutory guidance. doi:

Dodd-Nufrio, A. T. (2011) ‘Reggio Emilia, Maria Montessori, and John Dewey: Dispelling Teachers’ Misconceptions and Understanding Theoretical Foundations’, Early Childhood Education Journal. doi: 10.1007/s10643-011-0451-3. (2014) ‘EYFS Statutory Framework’, Department of Education, UK.

Jones, K., Daley, D., Hutchings, J., Bywater, T. and Eames, C. (2008) ‘Efficacy of the incredible years programme as an early intervention for children with conduct problems and ADHD: Long-term follow-up’, Child: Care, Health and Development. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2008.00817.x.

Lillard, A. S. (2011) ‘Mindfulness Practices in Education: Montessori’s Approach’, Mindfulness. doi: 10.1007/s12671-011-0045-6.

Lillard, A. S. (2012) ‘Preschool children’s development in classic Montessori, supplemented Montessori, and conventional programs’, Journal of School Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2012.01.001.

Marshall, C. (2017) ‘Montessori education: a review of the evidence base’, npj Science of Learning. doi: 10.1038/s41539-017-0012-7.

Pate, R. R., O’Neill, J. R., Byun, W., Mciver, K. L., Dowda, M. and Brown, W. H. (2014) ‘Physical activity in preschool children: Comparison between montessori and traditional preschools’, Journal of School Health. doi: 10.1111/josh.12207.

Roberts-Holmes, G. (2012) ‘“It’s the bread and butter of our practice”: Experiencing the Early Years Foundation Stage’, International Journal of Early Years Education. doi: 10.1080/09669760.2012.664473.

Soundy, C. S. (2009) ‘Young children’s imaginative play: Is it valued in montessori classrooms?’, Early Childhood Education Journal. doi: 10.1007/s10643-008-0282-z.

Viola, S. and Noddings, A. (2006) ‘Making Sense of Every Child’, Montessori Life.


August 14, 2023

Education Life Science



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