Gables Montessori Blog

Montessori Education Provides Better Outcomes than Traditional Methods, Study Finds

A study comparing outcomes of children at a public inner-city Montessori school with children who attended traditional schools indicates that Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic skills.


The study appears in the September 29, 2006 issue of the journal Science (article full text).

Montessori education is characterized by multi-age classrooms, a special set of educational materials, student-chosen work in long time blocks, a collaborative environment with student mentors, absence of grades and tests, and individual and small group instruction in academic and social skills. More than 5,000 schools in the United States, including 300 public schools, use the Montessori method.

The Montessori school studied is located in Milwaukee and serves urban minority children. Students at the school were selected for enrollment through a random lottery process. Those students who “won” the lottery and enrolled at the Montessori school made up the study group. A control group was made up of children who had “lost” the lottery and were therefore enrolled in other schools using traditional methods. In both cases the parents had entered their children in the school lottery with the hope of gaining enrollment in the Montessori school.

“This strategy addressed the concern that parents who seek to enroll their children in a Montessori school are different from parents who do not,” wrote study authors Angeline Lillard, a University of Virginia professor of psychology, and Nicole Else-Quest, a former graduate student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin. This was an important factor because parents generally are the dominant influence on child outcomes.

Children were evaluated at the end of the two most widely implemented levels of Montessori education: primary (3- to 6-year-olds) and elementary (6- to 12-year-olds). They came from families of very similar income levels (averaging from $20,000 to $50,000 per year for both groups).

The children who attended the Montessori school, and the children who did not, were tested for their cognitive and academic skills, and for their social and behavioral skills.

“We found significant advantages for the Montessori students in these tests for both age groups,” Lillard said. “Particularly remarkable are the positive social effects of Montessori education. Typically the home environment overwhelms all other influences in that area.”

Among the 5-year-olds, Montessori students proved to be significantly better prepared for elementary school in reading and math skills than the non-Montessori children. They also tested better on “executive function,” the ability to adapt to changing and more complex problems, an indicator of future school and life success.

Montessori children also displayed better abilities on the social and behavioral tests, demonstrating a greater sense of justice and fairness. And on the playground they were much more likely to engage in emotionally positive play with peers, and less likely to engage in rough play.

Among the 12-year-olds from both groups, the Montessori children, in cognitive and academic measures, produced essays that were rated as “significantly more creative and as using significantly more sophisticated sentence structures.” The Montessori and non-Montessori students scored similarly on spelling, punctuation and grammar, and there was not much difference in academic skills related to reading and math. This parity occurred despite the Montessori children not being regularly tested and graded.

In social and behavioral measures, 12-year-old Montessori students were more likely to choose “positive assertive responses” for dealing with unpleasant social situations, such as having someone cut into a line. They also indicated a “greater sense of community” at their school and felt that students there respected, helped and cared about each other.

The authors concluded that, “…when strictly implemented, Montessori education fosters social and academic skills that are equal or superior to those fostered by a pool of other types of schools.”

Lillard plans to continue the research by tracking the students from both groups over a longer period of time to determine long-term effects of Montessori versus traditional education. She also would like to replicate the study at other Montessori and traditional schools using a prospective design, and to examine whether specific Montessori practices are linked to specific outcomes.

Lillard is the author of Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. More information is available at:

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Kids need to have fun away from home and parks can be a good option for it, but if you don’t take into account some precautionary measures a moment of fun can turn into an unpleasant event. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms saw an estimated 30,000 injuries linked to amusement parks in 2016. There are also some incidents reported in zoos, playgrounds, water parks and other spaces, so the best thing is to have a broad spectrum of rules to teach children so they can enjoy themselves quietly outside. Most accidents are preventable following some simple safety guidelines.

  1. Teach your kids how to play safely. When visiting a park or any place (as a museum) read the rules with them. They will learn to prevent by themselves.
  2. Remember that there are not better safety inspectors than parents. If you consider that there are not safety standards or some rides are not intended for your children (obey posted age, height and weight restrictions), simply don’t let them get into them.
  3. At the amusement parks, observe things like: safety instructions posted, behavior of the operators, the possibility of stop the ride if the child becomes frightened and others important details.
  4. Try to avoid trampolines, some specialists say that falling off, crashing into other children, or jumping incorrectly can result in strains, sprains, fractures and other injuries, and serious head and neck injuries.
  5. Remember that children want to be trusted with their decisions and taking risks allow them to display courage and physical skills, so try they learn risk management strategies for themselves with your close monitoring.
  6. If you are going to a national park or forest, plan your trip carefully. Involve the whole family in the preparations for the ride. Teach your kids to watch their steps, to be alert about noises and animals and avoid insect bites, stings and scratches.
  7. Anytime and anyplace children need to learn how to protect themselves from sun rays using a hat, a shirt and sunscreen even on overcast days.
  8. Always keep your eyes on your kids, have a plan for what to do if you get separated or lost and teach them not to talk to or accept something from strangers.
  9. If the family is visiting a water park, be aware of your children’s swimming ability and be cautious about attractions such as wave pools and long slides.
  10. Control the food and drink. Children must be hydrated all the time but preferably with water, avoiding drinks that contain caffeine and candy that overexcite children.
  11. Recognize the signs of injury: headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, or numbness and tingling. If the child is not acting as usually, you should stop any activity in the park until he recovers himself. Don’t underestimate atypical symptoms.
  12. Have a plan to get your family out of the park in case of an accident, outbreak of violence, sudden weather or something else that could be dangerous. Locate the maps of the place before the fun starts and check the available exits “just in case”.
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The fear of water is relatively common among toddlers and preschool-age children, and if it is not addressed may persist throughout childhood. Many children hate to get their eyes wet in the bath so this simple activity can be a real struggle. Some specialists say that this kind of anxiety comes from the sense of separation from parents that the little ones experience, so the result is a generalized fear to many things that can be in some cases irrational. Also children don’t have the life experience to explain everyday occurrences or how things works so in some cases a bad incident in the water could be the origin of the fear. Anyhow, strategies should be aimed at increasing your child’s sense of control, ask what she is afraid of and listen to her response closely. Some tips as the following may help:

When bathing:

  • Place pictures, objects, images on the ceiling or walls to distract your child and encourage him to tip his head back for rinsing.
  • Give your child a small shampoo bottle to play and wash his own hair, making him part of the process.
  • Make the bath a time for fun, include toys in the water or objects that can get wet.
  • Try the shower instead of the bath tub, some kids feel comfortable with the shower spray.

In the pool:

  • Prefer calmed pools. Some of them can be overwhelming for some children (crowded and noisy).
  • Respect your genuine child´s feelings and don’t force him to go any faster than he is able. Be patient and don’t overreact getting nervous too.
  • Look for help, try to get into the water with another adult accompanying you and your child.
  • Encourage your child when he tries to overcome fear, a delicious reward is allowed in these cases.
  • Give your child frequent reassurance she is safe.
  • Be a role model, although you are afraid of water, never tell your children about it.
  • Never leave your child alone although he is afraid of the water, you don’t know when he would like to experience to get into it.


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When winter comes and temperature changes it is common children get red noses, coughing, headache, loss of appetite, fatigue and in some cases mild fever. Cold and flu are unwanted guests in the fall and winter but are unpleasant events that help to built immunity up, so be patient and try to keep in mind some tips and recommendations.

The cold is caused by viruses and kids can catch it from family members, playmates or caregivers by direct contact (kissing, touching or holding hands) or touching something infected such as toys, glasses or other things, some germs can stay on surfaces for many hours.

Typical cold symptoms include runny or stuffed-up nose and sneezing, headache, mild sore throat, loss of appetite, mild fever, coughing and even fatigue.  But in that case children are healthy enough to play and keep up their daily routines. However it depends on the kid, so parents must be alert to all the signals and symptoms. It may be necessary to call the doctor especially in the case of babies under six months that can find hard to breathe or swallow or have fever, cough so bad, are much sleepier than usual or don’t want to feed or play.

If your child has the typical symptoms and you know that is undoubtedly a cold:

  • Be prepared for at least 8 days of care, colds usually last about 1-2 weeks.
  • Keep your child hydrated do not force him to eat what he does not want.
  • Constantly check your child’s temperature, a temperature greater than 38.5°C is fever and before giving him any medicine, ask your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before giving drugs or medicines to children and do not give more than is recommended.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep, remember that his immune system is fighting against viruses.
  • Teach him how to expulse mucus from the chest, encouraging him to cough.
  • Remember that your kid can go to school if he feels well but if doesn’t, let him to rest at home.
  • Keep your home clean. Viruses are so resistant and are spread on toys, TV remotes, keys and other things in the house.

And to prevent getting a cold:

  • After coughing, wash your hands if you are sick or after being in contact with someone who has a cold. Teach your children to do so.
  • As much as it is possible, keep children and babies under 3 months old away from sick people.
  • Teach your children to cover their mouth when they cough.
  • Avoid sharing things that have been in contact with infected people.
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Christmas is here, time to celebrate, share with the family and enjoy some relaxing days. It is a different time of the year even for those who do not share the religious celebrations of these festivities. Children count down the days until school finishes and parents start thinking about the special details: gifts, trees to decorate, activities, events, food and where to spend Christmas Day. Planning can be a bit stressful and that is why for many, Christmas and New Year have lost their fun. Therefore the challenge is to return to the simple and see both as a beautiful parenthesis to enjoy, reconnect with the beloved people and teach the little ones to see it that way. Here are some tips for these Christmas days that are not only for children but also for parents to enjoy:

REFRESH YOUR TRADITIONS. We all have family traditions that bring us good memories, however may not be so fun for children who have not lived those experiences. Maybe it is time to create new approaches to this season, make an inventory and discard the traditions that don’t fit who you and your family are at present. Invite new friends to the house, change the decorations or create a new menu for Christmas Eve´s dinner.

CHRISTMAS FOR EVERYONE. Consider that adults deserve fun too although holidays are geared towards children. It is not only about organizing, planning and getting exhausted at the end of the month. Maybe parents can take some free days off from home or organize a party, or simply do some activity that is not necessarily dedicated to children.

KEEP IT SIMPLE. Teach your kids that Christmas is not about the bigger gift or the most expensive one, it is about conversations, laughs and shared experiences. Develop your own family traditions that fit you and your values. Don’t get exhausted after a perfect dinner or party, prefer simple things and what give happiness to all.

AS FUN AS A CHILD. What is your favorite Christmas memory from childhood? Decorating the tree and drinking hot chocolate? Decorating gingerbread biscuits? Find those things that you loved and reconnect with them. That feeling is the true spirit of these days.

PLAN YOUR ACTIVITIES AND RELAX. Forget about perfection, that doesn’t exist. Plan what you need and want to do each day. This will allow you to be more relaxed and have more fun with whatever it is you’re doing. And remember, it is not just the fun things we do that make Christmas memories, it’s the people we do them with.


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Some parents fail to recognize when children are too heavy and many consider their weight as “right”, but that is a normal behavior, typically we use to think that a thin child is not adequately fed. Besides, it is not easy to know what is the ideal number on the scale, because body changes so fast that we don’t realize our kids are getting fat until it’s too late. There are a variety of methods you can use to accurately measure your child’s weight and if it is necessary there are actions you can take to improve their health too.

According to research, a child who is obese at age 6 has a 50 percent chance of being an obese adult, which also means there is a serious risk for many diseases like diabetes and stroke. The first indicator of obesity is the parents. If you are an overweight parent, it is more likely that your child is or will become overweight. There are others signs, for example, if you need to buy clothes that are for a much older child or if you have to buy an adult size for your kid. But the final word comes from the doctor or nutritionist, he can measure your child’s waist circumference, the thickness of a pinch of skin or fat in various parts of the body or perform a bioelectrical impedance test. With those simple tests you can accurately measure your child’s weight and determine if it is diet time.

Children are constantly growing and developing human beings, so they need a variety of healthy foods to keep their bodies growing properly. Diets don’t include those nutritious foods so it is better for kids improve their health simply by eating healthy foods and being more active. Another issue related to diets is that when someone is willing to take extreme steps to be thinner could have an eating disorder as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, serious conditions that need a doctor’s attention. So if your child is overweight or obese, helping him get to a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for him. The right way to do it usually depends on your child’s age, activity and character and putting him on a diet maybe should be the ultimate option. There are certain actions that can be taken at home and that will help the whole family:

  • Try not to buy junk food. If you have it at home is easier for your kids to eat it.
  • Leave your kids at home when you are grocery shopping, make a list before and stick to it.
  • Sugary beverages are full of calories. A can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. Juice is not much better. Prefer always water.
  • Be sure to serve your children appropriate portions of their meal and everything “on the plate”, so they get used to see the quantities of food.
  • Practice and teach moderation. A delicious cake or an ice cream can be saved for especial occasions.
  • Try not to promote the “clean plate club”, if you want to avoid the wasting of food, practice serving adequate portions to each member of the family.
  • The best thing you can teach your children is to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satisfied, not full.
  • Prefer natural foods, the processed ones tend to contain more calories. Fruits instead of juices, raw vegetables instead of the cooked ones.
  • Plan ahead. Once a week, sit down and plan the week’s meals and make sure you have all the ingredients for your healthy menu.
  • Choose always fat-free or low-fat dairy products, your kids won´t know the difference and will love low-fat or fat-free cheese, yogurt and milk.
  • Assume this phrase as a rule or mantra: “If it’s fried, don’t eat it”. Fried foods are unhealthy. Maintain your family away from them whenever possible.
  • Walk, dance, run, play with your kids, try to incorporate exercise and movement into their daily activities. Take the stairs, play some sport, walk after dinner.
  • Avoid comment on what or how much your kids are eating, your children should become responsible for their own way of feeding. Phrases like “eat your vegetables” sometimes create rejection.
  • Involve your kids in choosing or preparing healthy meals, they’ll be more interested in eating what they’ve created.
  • Allow treats as having candy, soda, cereals and cookies sometimes when visiting grandparents or when the family is on vacation.
  • Be a role model. Assume that eating healthy is a way of living not an erratic habit. Your kids imitate your behavior, so be honest and teach how to take care of themselves but also when to enjoy a delicious meal for an special occasion. Balance is what counts.
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