Montessori education has long been a revered method to teach young children, with schools on six continents, but little research has been done in the United States assessing its educational outcomes.
Now researchers at the New York-based National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector aim to answer basic questions about the approach in this country by building a database about Montessori education. With a $300,000 grant from the Boston-based Trust for Learning, the project aims to identify effective learning approaches based on brain science, and expand their use.
Currently, the United States is home to more than 5,000 Montessori programs—most of which are located in preschools, said NCMPS Executive Director Keith Whitescarver. Some 500 Montessori programs, however, are housed in public K-12 schools.
“Little is known about Montessori,” Whitescarver said in an interview. “It’s been flying under the radar for many, many years.”
Interest is peaking, however, as more and more executives at technology firms place their own children in Montessori education, he said. Furthermore, he added that such programs are being picked up in urban settings with hopeful outcomes.
Researchers will try to determine who is providing Montessori education and how children enrolled in those programs stack up against peers in other types of settings both academically, socially and creatively.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.