If you are a Montessori preschool parent looking to enroll your child in elementary school, or a parent who is new to Montessori and exploring this educational option, you may be wondering if there is a difference in student performance at Montessori elementary schools over public schools. While that may seem like a question that should have a straightforward answer, there are a couple layers to the question itself that are worth unpacking before diving into a comparison of these educational options.
Montessori and public schools not mutually exclusive
One of the first layers to peel back is that of Montessori schools and public schools being in opposition. Though the majority of the Montessori schools in the U.S. are private schools, there are a growing number of public schools that are also Montessori schools. In other parts of the world, Montessori schools are the predominant public education option. Currently, there are an estimated 4,000 private Montessori schools in the US, and around 500 publicly funded Montessori schools and counting. So the distinction between Montessori schools and public schools is not always the correct one, and instead the focus of the question would more rightly fall on the method of education instead of a school’s public or private status.
The Montessori Method over traditional or conventional teaching methods
At the heart of the comparison between Montessori schools and non-Montessori schools is the pedagogical philosophy and method of education. The Montessori Method was created by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907 as a response to the traditional teaching methods of the time and what she observed generated successful outcomes for students in a learning environment. Instead of rigid rows of desks, she turned to hands-on learning and an open and organized environment. Instead of lectures, students were asked to take ownership of and direct their education. Instead of children grouped by age, she created cohorts based on their developmental stage. These are just a few of the differences in methodology that, both back then and today, set Montessori schools apart.
The challenge of comparison
To date, there have not been many rigorous comparative studies done of the Montessori Method over conventional teaching methods, but that is changing. Because there is a growing number of publicly funded Montessori schools that facilitate enrollment by lottery and waitlist, there can be more controlled case studies comparing the achievement of the children who won the lottery and those who didn’t. In initial research, the findings are promising for Montessori students in math, literacy, and social skills as compared to their peers.
While the performance of a school, its students, or its method of education is an important question to ask, another equally important question is: Is Montessori elementary school a good fit for my child? The good news is you’re already on your way to discovering your answer. Learning more about the Montessori method and the Montessori schools near you is a great start to finding the best school for your child and your family.
Hill Point Montessori in West Hills, California offers 3 programs – Primary for Ages 3-6; Lower Elementary for Ages 6-9; and Upper Elementary for Ages 9-12. Montessori education groups students according to their abilities, unlike traditional education where students are grouped by age. This allows students to work together and collaborate throughout their learning journey as they guide each other.