The Benefits of a Montessori Preschool Education
Children who go through a Montessori program reap enormous benefits both socially and academically. "By the end of Kindergarten, the Montessori children performed better on standardized tests of reading and math, engaged in more positive interaction on the playground, and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control."*
The Montessori curriculum provides an optimal environment for children's intellectual, social, emotional, and physical growth. The Montessori materials are designed with specific developmental goals in mind that meet the needs of the preschool child and which give the child a real advantage both academically and socially in later schooling. The practical life materials encourage hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, control of movement, and independence. The sensorial materials are designed to refine the senses as well as to introduce concepts of comparison, sequence, and logic. Children under the age of six are in a sensitive period for language; thus it is very beneficial to them to have a structured language program which prepares them for reading and writing. This good foundation of language in preschool makes a difference for them when they get older because one of the biggest factors in children's success in school is their language abilities at the grade one level. The math materials introduce the children to abstraction, which is another important developmental milestone for preschoolers. And again, the benefits of early exposure to such a concrete, progressive math program are long lasting. "Students who had participated in the Montessori program significantly outperformed the Peer Control group on Math/ Science scores."**
In a Montessori classroom, the directresses focus a lot on children's social development. That is, they spend a lot of time helping the children learn to get along with their peers by developing positive social behaviour and positive expression of feelings. The directresses role-play potential conflicts and solutions with the children, give the children the language to assert their feelings and needs, and encourage respect for the children's choices, needs, and preferences. Role plays include how to say "excuse me" if someone is in your way, how to ask for help, how to interrupt someone, how to invite someone to play, how to give and receive compliments, how to greet someone, how to move quietly through a room so as not to disturb, and how to politely assert one's preference or objection. These exercises are called "grace and courtesy" and form an important part of the smooth functioning of the classroom and as well as an important part of the children's social development that they can carry over into any other environment they will find themselves in.
In a Montessori classroom the children also develop strength of character. The way that the classroom is designed and functions encourages the development of: self-discipline including self-control and willpower; concentration; independence; self-confidence; honesty; and self-respect.
*Science. September 29, 2006. vol. 313."The Early Years: Evaluating Montessori" Angeline Lillard and Nicole Else-Quest
**Outcomes for Students in a Montessori Program: A Longitudinal Study of the Experience in the Milwaukee Public Schools by Kathryn Rindskopf Dohrmann May 2003 report. P.3