Your Child’s Experience Transitioning from Montessori to a Traditional School
Each child responds differently to life transitions. The philosophy behind The Montessori Schools’ curriculum is to equip children with the necessary skills, coping mechanisms, and self-reliance to navigate the planned or unplanned events and changes that occur as part of everyday life. Our former students succeed in traditional or progressive educational settings, because they have had significant practice adapting their cognitive and behavioral responses to manage external demands.
In simple terms, Montessori children are experienced problem-solvers. More often than not, they can successfully navigate whatever life might throw at them.
High Ranks for Montessori
Multiple, high-profile studies in recent years have concluded that Montessori children experience a range of successes after entering non-Montessori educational settings. They score well on standardized tests for reading and math and are consistently ranked above average when compared to their non-Montessori peers. Results are also positive when a range of criteria is considered, from following directions, meeting deadlines, and listening attentively—to more proactive demonstrations of initiative, such as showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, expressing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations.
The world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) published cutting-edge research on evaluating Montessori education in its Science journal. The children in the study had attended AMI/USA programs—traditional and relatively strict implementations of the Montessori Method. Both the academic and social impacts of a Montessori education were evaluated.
The well-publicized study published by AAAS, which provided a control for parental influence, came to an unexpected conclusion, “Especially remarkable outcomes of the Montessori education are the social effects.”
The Montessori children in the study received higher test scores than their non-Montessori peers upon entering elementary school. However, their social scores were equally impressive, as they consistently scored high for positive peer interaction, advanced social cognition, executive control, and an affinity for “fairness and justice.”
Furthermore, the Montessori children consistently demonstrated, even at the conclusion of their elementary school education, the capacity for positive conflict resolution and community building. And, apparently, social-emotional maturity came with creative and intellectual prowess; the study reported, “The Montessori children wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures.”
Research has clearly indicated that Montessori teaching materials help children develop high-level executive functioning skills. The development of impulse control, working memory, task persistence, grit, problem-solving, creative thinking, and time/resource management are indicators of school readiness, as well as future success in life.
It is important to keep these early accomplishments in mind, as the academic challenges facing your child as part of his or her ongoing education are only half the formula for success.
Montessori children are encouraged to follow their interests, which means that “self-guided study” will put them far ahead of their peers in some subject areas; your child will have had a special educational experience that allowed him or her to explore interests without limits. In contrast, at their new school, many concepts will be taught differently, forcing them to adapt to traditional teaching strategies, including homework. These scenarios and more imply that the most important skillset learned during the Montessori primary education may be the capacity to deal with new situations.
Distress or frustration tolerance, whether brought on by a new situation or a newly challenging situation, is a critical life skill to master. In school, as in life, a child is called on to handle disagreeable circumstances: when life just isn’t going as expected.
Montessori children combine academic readiness with life readiness to overcome everyday challenges inside and outside of school.
Although children today certainly deal with some weighty matters, the daily grind can also take its toll. As adults, caught up in our own concerns, we forget how the seemingly smallest of interactions can affect a child. A good friend doesn’t sit next to you at lunch. A teacher calls on you to speak to the class about an assignment. You have to decide which favored activity makes the cut during a particularly busy week. And, don’t forget how the occasional bad hair/outfit/personal hygiene day can color an entire school day.
The Montessori child has an added advantage, having learned at an early age how to roll with the punches, adapt, and innovate their way out of tough (and not so tough) conditions.
Learning How to Learn
Montessori children have learned how to find information, on their own, if needed. They have learned how to evaluate the answers to their questions and, then, how to apply this knowledge to the specifics of their problem. Montessori children have learned how to learn.
Consequently, transitioning from a Montessori school to a traditional school is not at all the insurmountable problem often envisioned by adults. On the contrary, post-Montessori education, children typically have very positive experiences. Children who have had the advantage of early years spent exploring and challenging themselves—children routinely engaged in discovery—possess the necessary tools to be successful in a new phase of their academic careers.
The capacity to adapt and to innovate and to be self-possessed, regardless of what’s going on…this kind of resiliency is the Montessori advantage.