The Value of Montessori Elementary Education

By Savka Wisecup, Montessori Educational Consultant

Dr. Angeline Lillard, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Early Development Laboratory at the University of Virginia, co-led a study testing Montessori students for their mental performance, academic abilities, social and behavioural skills.  She noted, “We found significant advantages for the Montessori students in these tests for both age groups. Not only were the primary school children better prepared for the “three Rs” at primary level, they also had higher scores in tests of “executive function.” This is the ability to adapt to changing and complex problems and is seen as an indicator of future school and life success.”

“Research Shows Benefits of Montessori Education” The Guardian – Sept. 2006

GMS Gr. 6 Mean Grade Equivalent

Students in a Montessori elementary classroom (Grades 1-6) learn to question, think critically and take responsibility for their own actions and achievements in their preparation of building life skills. Students transition their learning styles from concrete to abstract. They also have a growing interest in socialization and are more aware of fairness and social justice.

Specially designed Montessori materials and lessons in the elementary classroom provide opportunities for complex exploration, discovery and investigation. Students are encouraged to ask “How, When, Where and Why?”  Following the guidelines of the Montessori elementary curriculum, the teacher creates individualized learning programs for each student. These are based on the student’s interests, abilities and needs. Academic achievement is a priority, but in a Montessori elementary classroom, independence, confidence, individual motivation, social responsibility and global citizenship are equally important.

The Montessori elementary curriculum includes “practical life”, math, language, cultural studies, foreign language, social studies, science & technology, music, art, and physical education. Through “practical life” lessons, students learn fine motor skills, experience responsibility, become more capable of time management and practice organizational skills.

With the math curriculum and “hands on” applications, students discover number concepts, mathematical operations and complex functions. An example of a math lesson is exploring the Theorem of Pythagoras –the relationship between the sides of the right triangle. The study of language includes composition, learning grammar for sentence construction, spelling, expanding reading abilities to acquire critical, analytic and comparative skills, practicing penmanship and giving formal and informal presentations.  The cultural studies program integrates lessons in zoology, botany, geography, physical and life sciences, anthropology and the exploration of the interconnectedness with all living things. Lessons in history, world geography, civics, economics, world languages and cultures are also included. The exploration of social and science studies is highlighted with the introduction of the Great Lessons, a series of dramatic stories exploring the origins of the universe, planet, evolution and the development of human advancement.

Our Grade 3 and Grade 6 elementary students at Glebe Montessori School annually take the Canadian Achievement Tests (CAT 4) to measure their achievements in comparison with other students across Canada at their grade level. These tests reflect the national percentile ranking of students in Canada for Reading, Word Analysis, Vocabulary, Writing Conventions, Spelling, Mathematics and Computation & Estimation. All of our 3rd and 6th grade students scored higher than the national average. The chart below shows 6th grade Canadian Achievement Test results for the 2021-22 academic year.

A Montessori elementary education prepares students to excel academically, take on leadership roles, and become engaged, resourceful, compassionate citizens in our global community.

It is not true that I invented what is called the Montessori Method…. I have studied the child;

I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method.”  Maria Montessori