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


The Myth

Many people are under the impression that older children need a more conventional model of education, and that a Montessori education doesn’t work after preschool. This likely comes from a lack of understanding all that the Montessori Method really encompasses. Other myths about Montessori can also feed this belief, myths such as: “Montessori children do whatever they want,” or “Montessori does not prepare children for the real world.” I am happy to report that none of this is true. On the contrary, the Montessori Method is all about meeting the changing needs of each individual child at every age and stage in his or her development.

Montessori works
One Size Does NOT Fit All

The Montessori method, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori nearly a century ago and since substantiated by numerous scientists and studies, is based on an in-depth understanding of the way the human brain really works and grows. Maria Montessori, a brilliant scientist and physician, spent her life observing children in order to understand things like: how does the brain really learn, what concepts can or should children be learning and when, and what is the best way to provide the right lessons at the right times.

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Most of the schools that we adults attended as children, were based on a “one-size-fits-all” model. In other words, we all sat in the same classroom, learned the same lessons, and worked (or were expected to) at the same pace. Some schools offered a few different levels for more or less advanced students, but the lessons were still centered around one teacher delivering a single lesson to numerous students. The lessons were rarely interactive or hands-on, and independent thinking was not practiced or encouraged at all.

Montessori works
Children are often bored or frustrated with school and lose interest at a young age.

While there are exceptions, my experience has been that today’s classrooms are much the same. The child’s individual developmental needs are not taken into account. Children are often bored or frustrated with school and lose interest at a young age. Today’s children are also expected to sit still for longer and longer periods of time during the school day. Playtime, outdoor-time, movement, music, and hands-on learning are all considered inessential and even a waste of time. Is it any wonder that more than 1.2 million American students drop out of school every year? That’s around 7,000 students a day! (According to the National Center for Educational Statistics.)

On the other hand, the Montessori classroom environment changes in response to the needs of the child. Instead of lecturing to the class as a group, the Montessori teacher moves around the classroom observing each child’s progress and offering instruction accordingly. Montessori children often learn from one another by working in small groups, the more advanced (at that particular task) demonstrating for the others. The Montessori Method places a lot of emphases on hands-on learning and learning through physical movement. Also, Montessori schools work toward the goal of mastery and thorough understanding, instead of focusing on test scores and grades. (Which is not to say that Montessori students perform poorly on standardized testing. On the contrary, Montessori students tend to have better reading and math skills than their peers who attend traditional schools. (Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius: Angeline Lillard, PhD.)

We parents all want the best possible education for our children, at every age, and Montessori’s educational method is every bit as ‘right’ for older children as it is for those in preschool.

And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.

~ Maria Montessori

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This online course includes an overview of the Infant Toddler Classroom (Birth to age 2.5) + the Early Childhood Classroom (2.5 to 6) and the Elementary Classroom (6 – 12)!

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    1. Hello Carolyn and thanks! I’m glad you mentioned that you use Montessori techniques with adults. I’d love to hear more about that…very interesting.

  1. I love that Montessori really embraces the child’s individuality! Thank you for this resource for educating people about the differences between traditional education and Montessori education.

  2. 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

  3. 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? Would really appreciate any information 🙂 thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Kat,
      Here are a few things to look into. One is a link to post from
      a college student about how Montessori prepared her:
      This topic is also addressed in research studies about the Montessori Method in this professional development webinar: Research Breakthroughs in Education: A Transformative Approach

      Hope this helps, Kat!

    2. Dear Kat,
      Many successful and accomplished people have experienced a Montessori
      education in their childhood.

      Here are a few: – Founders of Google – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – Founder of Amazon – Jeff Bros – Prince William and Prince Harry …
      … these are just three of a long list of independent thinkers who
      became successful adults. There is also a YouTube video titled, “Best
      Interview with Apple Co-Founder, Steve Wozniak” where he talks about
      education (starts in minute 11:20) he says that Montessori schools teach
      independent thinking better than most schools. (www.dailymontessori.com)

      Also, from the above cited website, “While one can argue that there are
      many successful people who were not exposed to Montessori education,
      [what’s] interesting is that many of those that attended Montessori school
      praise it as one of the important success factors.”

      And for our organizations perspective on this, Age of Montessori has a free
      webinar entitled, “Why Montessori Works.”

      Hope this helps,
      Susan H

    1. Hi Marvel, We had a visitor to our office who had sent his son to a Montessori elementary school Mr. B. and his wife (from the Boston area) were amazed when touring their first Montessori school — to see children working separately on their individual lessons or in small groups. An elementary student was guiding them through the school. Mr. B. commented that he was amazed to see the children all getting along. 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. You can find solutions here: Overcome Bullying: Creating a Peaceful Classroom

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