Although researchers have yet to render the definitive verdict on preschool as the possible key to Kindergarten readiness, better K–12 outcomes, and life success for children, more findings are being added to the pool every month. One case in point is a new longitudinal study that examines academic and socioemotional outcomes for students participating in a Montessori preschool.
For those not familiar with the method, the American Montessori Society’s list of attributes reads: “Multiage groupings that foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and guided choice of work activity. In addition, a full complement of specially designed Montessori learning materials are meticulously arranged and available for use in an aesthetically pleasing environment.”
For the purposes of the present study, Montessori was chosen as an alternative to what the researchers define as default or “business-as-usual” versions of preschool: “teacher-led and didactic or else…lack[ing] academic content.”
Angeline Lillard and her research team used lottery-based Montessori magnet schools in Hartford, Connecticut, to create treatment and control groups. The treatment group comprised seventy students who won the lottery to attend one of two public Montessori schools; the control group consisted of seventy-one students who lost the same lottery and attended a...