One of the main differences between a Montessori education and a traditional one is that the Montessori method focuses on individual learning at a child’s individual pace. Although it may seem as if that would slow the child down, it actually does the opposite. Because students are permitted to explore areas that they are most interested in, they are naturally encouraged to explore more challenging areas and dig deeper into a topic. The measures of achievement look at individual progress and development rather than traditional methods like grades and tests. A study conducted by the University of Virginia found that Montessori students had significantly better scores when tested against non Montessori students in mental performance, academic abilities and social and behavioral skills. The study further showed that the Montessori students were better equipped to adapt to changing and complex problems. This ability is often treated as a predictor of future success, another indicator that a Montessori education better prepares students for future success.
Another key value of a Montessori education is its emphasis on fostering independence among the students. In her book The Absorbent Mind, Maria Montessori writes, “The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his ‘natural development’, labeling independence as one of the key aspects of development. It is vital to begin fostering independence at a young age and Montessori allows that to occur.
The Montessori Method, especially when paired with Reggio Emilia enrichment, also serves to grow a child’s creativity. With Montessori, children are encouraged to follow their interests, leading to an inherent growth in creativity as they are doing tasks that they want to rather than to prepare for an exam or because they are told to do so. This allows children to enjoy the process of learning rather than just the end result allowing for a creative process to occur and for a child’s love of learning to grow. In an environment where students are forced to learn “for the test” or because the “curriculum says so” a student’s natural love of learning is often extinguished and along with it the ability for creative expression. A Montessori education avoids those issues by working for the opposite goals: fueling a child’s love of learning and allowing a child to explore his or her passions. When a Montessori education is also paired with the Reggio Emilia designated creative art space, creativity increases even more.
A Montessori education has many unique benefits that are vital to lifelong success and are not accessible with a traditional education.