Three-year-old Jackson was a shy child; he was hesitant to join groups of children, and when an adult addressed him, he looked down and did not answer. Jackson’s parents were worried about him: how would he succeed in school if he could not even talk to new people? They felt that he would get lost in a traditional VPK classroom. His parents decided that Montessori school would be the best choice for him. They felt that an environment in which all children are treated with respect and viewed holistically would be the best way to get him to come out of his shell.
Two years later, Jackson is confident, articulate, and a leader among his peers. His teachers have taken the time to get to know him, he has gained confidence from the work he has done in class, and all of the students in his class are friends.
Aside from growing socially, Jackson is reading at a second-grade level, knows several Spanish phrases, and knows more geometry and geography than his parents do.
Jackson’s parents now know what a study in Science magazine showed… that Montessori students fare much better than their non-Montessori school counterparts. Published on September 29, 2006, the study showed greater success for Montessori students both academically and socially. The authors of the study concluded that, “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.”
Five-year-old Montessori students were significantly better prepared for elementary school in reading and math skills than the non-Montessori children. They also tested better on “executive function,” which is the ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems, and an indicator of future school and life success.
12-year-old Montessori children wrote essays that were rated as “significantly more creative and as using significantly more sophisticated sentence structures” than the non-Montessori students.
Montessori children in all age groups scored higher on social and behavioral tests, and demonstrated a greater sense of justice and fairness. On the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play.
12-year-old Montessori students were more likely to choose “positive assertive responses” for dealing with unpleasant social situations, such as having someone cut into a line. They also indicated a “greater sense of community” at their school and felt that students there respected, helped and cared about each other.
The Importance of Montessori Accreditation
Dr. Maria Montessori founded her first school in 1907, but she never trademarked her name. As a result, any school can call itself Montessori. When you choose a Montessori school, it is of utmost importance that you look into the school’s credentials.
There are two major Montessori accreditation agencies, the American Montessori Society and the International Montessori Society, which work to regulate the quality of Montessori schools. In order to gain accreditation, schools must go through a lengthy approval process which includes recognition criteria such as a 12 to 18 month self-study and on site team visit. Montessori teachers go through specialized training programs.
A university B.A. or B.S. in education is not sufficient to become a certified Montessori instructor. A Montessori teacher is trained to teach one student at a time, while simultaneously overseeing up to 30 students working on different projects. The Montessori teacher’s role is to guide the child as she explores and researches new subjects. The teacher teaches by teaching, rather than by correcting.