A longitudinal study published in Frontiers in Psychology examined how children in Montessori schools changed over three years compared with children in other pre-school settings.
The Montessori model involves both child-directed, freely-chosen activity and academic content. Angeline Lillard and colleagues compared educational outcomes for children allocated places by a random lottery to either Montessori pre-schools (n=70) or non-Montessori pre-school settings (n=71) in Connecticut, US. The research team carried out a variety of assessments with the children over a three-year period, from when the children were three until they were six.
The researchers found that over time children in Montessori pre-schools performed better on measures of academic achievement (Woodcock–Johnson IIIR Tests of Achievement effect size = +0.41) and social understanding, while enjoying their school work more, than those in conventional pre-school settings. They also found that in Montessori classrooms, children from low-income families, who typically don’t perform as well in school, showed similar academic performance as children from higher-income families. Children with low executive function similarly performed as well as those with high executive function.
The findings, they suggest, indicate that well-implemented Montessori education could be a way to help disadvantaged children to achieve their academic potential.
Source: Montessori Preschool Elevates and Equalizes Child Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study (October 2017), Frontiers in Psychology