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Thank you for this resource for educating people about the differences between traditional education and Montessori education.

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People often get used that — after three it is too late, and they concentrate more on young age. Ofcourse the first 3 years of life are of great importance but if you will let it go after that age and turn into regular education it will not make sense. It is never too late. Each year is important. I really like you view, I really support all your posts. Great article, thank you for sharing! I am trying to get more information about the effects of having a Montessori education. As much as I am a firm believer of a child centered education, I hear many people say that children from a Montessori education preschool to high school often face difficulty in College as most Universities employ a traditional method.

Do you have any current research showing that a Montessori educated young adult can thrive in a traditional university? Hi Kat, Here are a few things to look into.

FAQ: Montessori works only for preschool-age children, right?

Dear Kat, Many successful and accomplished people have experienced a Montessori education in their childhood. Hi Marvel, We had a visitor to our office who had sent his son to a Montessori elementary school Mr.

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An elementary student was guiding them through the school. When he asked if there was bullying in the school, the guide said that they had not encountered it in their school. In case, there are problems with bullying — We do have a professional webinar that addresses this topic.

Name required. Email will not be published required. Chapter 4, "Mathematics," consists of diary entries documenting instruction and progress in mathematics using Montessori materials. Chapter 5, "Special Children," highlights the author's experiences teaching an intellectually gifted child and a child with learning disabilities.

Chapter 6, "Personal Development," presents the author's reflections regarding her own professional and personal development and the personal development of her students. Important though the learning materials are, 8 they do not, in isolation, constitute the Montessori method because they need to be engaged with in a particular way. Montessori observed that the young child is capable of concentrating for long periods of time on activities that capture his spontaneous interest. The first is that there is a cycle of activity surrounding the use of each piece of material termed the 'internal work cycle ' 9.

If a child wishes to use the pink tower, for example, he will have to find a space on the floor large enough to unroll the mat that will delineate his work area, carry the ten cubes of the pink tower individually to the mat from where they are stored, then build the tower. Once he has built the tower he is free to repeat this activity as many times as he likes. Other children may come and watch, and if he wishes they can join in with him, but he will be able to continue on his own if he prefers and for as long as he likes.

When he has had enough, he will dismantle the pink tower and reassemble it in its original location, ready for another child to use. The second feature which aims to promote concentration is that these cycles of activity take place during a 3-h period of time termed the 'external work cycle' 9. One might wonder what the role of the teacher is during this period.


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Although the children have a great deal of freedom in what they do, their freedom is not unlimited. Her decisions about what to teach are made on the basis of careful observations of the children.

Although she might start the day with plans of what she will do during the work cycle, she will be led by her students and their needs, and there is no formal timetable. Hence the Montessori classroom is very different to the teacher-led conventional classroom with its highly structured day where short timeslots are devoted to each activity, the whole class is engaged in the same activities at the same time, and the teacher instructs at the front of the class.

All the elements described here—the features of the learning materials themselves e. We will return to many of the elements discussed here in the following two sections. This has necessarily been only a brief survey of some of the most important elements of the Montessori method.

Frequently Asked Questions – South African Montessori Association

Readers wanting to find out more are again directed to refs. There are few peer-reviewed evaluations of Montessori education, and the majority have been carried out in the USA. As a whole this body of research suffers from several methodological limitations. Firstly, few studies are longitudinal in design. Secondly, there are no good quality randomised control trials; most researchers have instead tried to match participants in Montessori and comparison groups on as many likely confounding variables as possible. Thirdly, if children in the Montessori group do score higher than those in the non-Montessori group on a particular outcome measure, then assuming that that effect can be attributed to being in a Montessori classroom, what exactly is it about Montessori education that has caused the effect?

Montessori education is a complex package—how can the specific elements which might be causing the effect be isolated?

At a very basic level—and drawing on two of the main aspects of Montessori education outlined above—is the effect due to the learning materials or to the self-directed way in which children engage with them and can the two be separated? Fifthly, and relatedly, there is the issue of 'treatment fidelity'—what counts as a Montessori classroom? Not all schools that call themselves 'Montessori' adhere strictly to Montessori principles, have trained Montessori teachers, or are accredited by a professional organisation.

Finally, the numbers of children participating in studies are usually small and quite narrow in terms of their demographics, making generalisation of any results problematic.

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These methodological issues are not limited to evaluations of Montessori education, of course—they are relevant to much of educational research. Of these, the lack of randomised control trials is particularly notable given the recognition of their importance in education. This means that if a study finds a benefit for Montessori education over conventional education this might reflect a parent effect rather than a school effect.

Montessori schools are often fee-paying, which means that pupils are likely to come from higher SES families; children from higher SES families are likely to do better in a variety of educational contexts. Arguably the most robust evaluation of the Montessori method to date is that by Lillard and Else-Quest. Careful thought was given to how to overcome the lack of random assignment to the Montessori and non-Montessori groups. All children had entered the Montessori school lottery; those who were accepted were assigned to the Montessori group, and those who were not accepted were assigned to the comparison other education systems group.

Montessori Gains Momentum

Post-hoc comparisons showed similar income levels in both sets of families. Although group differences were not found for all outcome measures, where they were found they favoured the Montessori group.


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For 5-year olds, significant group differences were found for certain academic skills namely letter-word identification, phonological decoding ability, and math skills , a measure of executive function the card sort task , social skills as measured by social reasoning and positive shared play and theory of mind as measured by a false-belief task. For year olds, significant group differences were found on measures of story writing and social skills. Furthermore, in a questionnaire that asked about how they felt about school, responses of children in the Montessori group indicated that they felt a greater sense of community.

The authors concluded that 'at least when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools'. Children in these classes were 3—6 years old, and they were tested at two time-points: towards the beginning and towards the end of the school year.

Although the study lacked random assignment of children to groups, the groups were matched with respect to key parent variables such as parental education. Children in the high-fidelity Montessori school, as compared with children in the other two types of school, showed significantly greater gains on measures of executive function, reading, math, vocabulary, and social problem-solving. Furthermore, the degree to which children were engaged with Montessori materials significantly predicted gains in executive function, reading and vocabulary. In other words, treatment fidelity mattered: children gained fewer benefits from being in a Montessori school when they were engaged in non-Montessori activities.

Over a period of 4 months children in the classrooms from which supplementary materials were removed made significantly greater gains than children from the unchanged classroom on tests of letter-word identification and executive function, although not on measures of vocabulary, theory of mind, maths, or social problem-solving. The authors acknowledge weaknesses in the study design, including the small number of participants just 52 across the three classrooms and the short duration.

Nevertheless, the study does provide a template for how future experimental manipulations of fidelity to the Montessori method could be carried out. Fidelity is important because variation in how faithful Montessori schools are to the 'ideal' is likely to be an important factor in explaining why such mixed findings have been found in evaluations of the Montessori method.

These same limitations then make it difficult to interpret studies that have found 'later' benefits for children who have been followed up after a subsequent period of conventional education. In one of the studies discussed earlier, 23 social and cognitive benefits did emerge for children who had previously attended Montessori preschools and then moved to conventional schools, but these benefits did not emerge until adolescence, while a follow-up study 26 found cognitive benefits in Montessori males only, again in adolescence.

Although such 'sleeper effects' have been widely reported in evaluations of early years interventions, they may be artefacts of simple measurement error and random fluctuations. Some studies report positive outcomes for certain curricular areas but not others. One, for example, investigated scores on maths, science, English and social studies tests in the final years of compulsory education, several years after children had left their Montessori classrooms.