Study Finds Montessori Education Benefits Children

Executive function, creative writing among improvements observed in children attending Montessori schools

THURSDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Inner-city children who attend Montessori schools in Milwaukee have better social and academic skills than similar students who attend traditional-type schools, according to a report in the Sept. 29 issue of Science.

Angeline Lillard, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and Nicole Else-Quest, Ph.D., previously of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed 53 control students at traditional schools and 59 children who were selected by lottery to attend a Montessori school. Montessori education is characterized by multi-age classrooms, student-chosen work conducted in long time blocks, the absence of grades and tests, and individual and group instruction in both academic and social skills.

Five-year-old Montessori students showed better "executive function," an indicator of future academic and social success, than their peers. In a short essay test, 12-year-old Montessori students produced more sophisticated sentence structures and displayed more creativity in their writing than traditional students. These students also appeared to be socially well-adapted and were more likely to choose "positive assertive responses" to unpleasant social situations.

The authors note that the effects on social behavior are "especially remarkable" since the home environment is usually the strongest influence in that area. "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," the authors write.

Lillard is the author of "Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius."

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