How do you know Montessori works?

Montessori is a world-renowned, scientifically proven educational method. We know Montessori works because it has been successfully implemented in thousands of schools around the world for over 100 years.  Recent scientific research on educational outcomes and early childhood neurology support what Montessori educators have observed since Dr. Montessori’s initial work.  

For example, in studies conducted comparing Montessori students to demographically matched non-Montessori students, strictly implemented Montessori was shown to foster social and academic skills equal or superior to non-Montessori programs.  In this study, Montessori students used what researchers have determined is a higher level of reasoning that the non-Montessori children.  Five-year-olds in their 3rd year of Montessori had more positive interactions on the playground, and did better on standardized tests for math and reading.  These students were also found to have more advanced executive control, more social cognition, and more concern for fairness and justice.

Montessori twelve-year-olds, in their 10th year of Montessori, were found to have more positive responses to social dilemmas, more sense of community at their school, and more creative essays with more sophisticated sentence structure.

Scientific research on the brain’s executive function show that there are certain elements which are consistent in highly successful programs.  These same elements are found in the Montessori Method. They include:

  • Continually challenging the executive function at higher and higher levels
  • Reduced classroom stress
  • Preserving the dignity of the child (not embarrassing the child)
  • Cultivation of joy and pride in work, self-confidence
  • Active hands-on learning
  • Progressing at different rates
  • Character development
  • Emphasis on oral language
  • Peer teaching
  • Fostering independence and social skills

In addition, research has proven that Montessori 3-6 year olds spend less sedentary time throughout their day—during school, after school, and total day — than children in traditional preschools.

Studies have found that deep learning engagement produces better outcomes. And in a recent study of 290 demographically matched Montessori and traditional middle school students while in school, the Montessori students reported greater affect, energized feelings, intrinsic motivation, flow experience, and undivided interest.

Lillard, A. & Else-Quest, N. (2006). Evaluating Montessori education. Science, 313, p. 1893-1894.
Diamond, A. (2012). Activities and programs that improve children’s executive functions. Association for Psychological Science, 21 (5), 335-341.
Rathunde, K. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005a). Middle school students’ motivation and quality of experience: A comparison of Montessori and traditional school environments. American journal of education, 111(3), pp. 341-371.

Do the children go outside?

Our park-like setting is ideal for outdoor play time, gardening activities, and exploration of our physical world under the watchful eye of our staff. Children can participate in outdoor play, large motor activities, and nature study in our secure natural playground.

Are Montessori students successful in “the real world”?

MSMV’s goal is to allow each child to construct themselves as a compassionate global citizen, enthusiastic about learning as a lifestyle, able and willing to work hard collaboratively and independently, using critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

An article in Forbes magazine listed the top 5 skills most desired by 21st century employers as the abilities to work in a team; make decisions and solve problems; plan, organize and prioritize work; communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization; and obtain and process information.  Although some have estimated that as many as 65% of the future jobs today’s children will be hired to perform don’t exist yet, these key abilities — or “soft skills” — will hold true.

Montessori education allows children to practice all these skills every day starting as early as age 3.  Students are simultaneously challenged and inspired, and refine their perseverance, patience, problem identifying, creative problem-solving, and confidence by their daily repetition of their work cycle:  exploring, attempting, making mistakes, discovering mistakes, fixing mistakes, and growing.
For further information on this subject, you might enjoy looking at our <list of well-known Montessori students>.

Adams, S. (10/11/2013). The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 20-Something Employees. Forbes Magazine,

Are Montessori schools academically challenging?

Yes; Montessori schools continually challenge students at higher and higher levels, because the learning stimulates engagement, promoting deeper learning of the concepts within the academic subject—rather than rote memorization of facts and abstract techniques. Our alumni are great examples of Montessori success stories, as they successfully match and exceed traditionally educated students in  a variety of local high schools, and universities across the nation.

Are Montessori schools good for gifted children?

Montessori schools are wonderful places for gifted learners because they are free to learn at their own natural rate, without having to wait for others to “catch up”.  Montessori schools recognize that there are very many different kinds of giftedness, and by allowing students to follow their interests at their own pace, children with a range of giftedness thrive.

What does it take to become a credentialed Montessori teacher?

Dr. Montessori wrote, “It is not enough for the teacher to love the child. She must first love and understand the universe. She must prepare herself, and truly work at it.”  For that reason, Montessori teacher credentialing programs are very rigorous and thorough teacher training programs.  Educators have agreed that their Montessori credential was more intensive study than their education undergrad, or even their Masters degree.  After first obtaining a Bachelors degree, candidates must complete a course of study provided through a Montessori teacher training center.  A minimum of one year’s practicum—or “student teaching” in a Montessori environment— is required.  There are several credentialing entities, the world leaders of which are the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS).  

Are all your teachers qualified Montessori educators?

Yes, all of our head teachers are credentialed either through the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) or the American Montessori Society. (AMS)  Our head of school is also credentialed in Montessori School Management through AMS.

How many students are typically in a Montessori class? What are the student to teacher ratios?

Some private schools seek to maintain very small classes; Montessori education embraces the social environment of somewhat larger classroom sizes which help foster independence and peer teaching opportunities.

Primary - We have 2 Primary classrooms; one holds up to 24 students and the other up to 18, according to our State licensure. Each classroom has a Montessori credentialed teacher and a teacher’s assistant or second Montessori credentialed teacher.  In our Primary classrooms (which include Kindergarten students) we maintain the ratio requirements of our State license, which are 12 students for every 1 adult.

Elementary & Adolescents - Each multi-aged grouping may have anywhere from approximately 5 to 10 students per age.  For example, in our Lower Elementary class we may have 9 first year students, 8 second year students, and 10 third year students in a given school year.  For current classroom sizes, please contact the school office.

What curriculum do Montessori schools follow?

Algebra, geometry, physical science, history, language arts, geography—these are a just few of the familiar subjects that Montessori schools offer.  It is a rigorous academic program, with an enriched, integrated curriculum that intertwines the individual strands, so that there is Art and Geometry in Geography, Language and Math in Sensorial studies, Music and Science in History, etc.  This immersion in their studies allows students, driven by their curiosity, to begin perceiving the interrelatedness of all things.  

How/when do you teach children to read?

Like all of the other aspects of the Montessori Method, reading is integrated into the entire curriculum.  Children begin to read through the provision of prepared environments rich with vocabulary-building opportunities, phonetically presented works, the inspiration of older students in the classroom and their reading materials, an attitude of reverence for books and words in a pressure-free environment, adults and older students reading aloud, and the introduction of writing prior to the development of reading skills.  Dr. Montessori observed that developmentally, writing precedes reading, so the methods used in the classroom follow that important distinction. The preparation for writing, phonemic awareness work, and other components of reading preparation begins as early as age three, as the child’s development indicates readiness.

Why do your three- and four-year-olds attend MSMV five days a week?

It is sometimes hard to think of sending your young child to school five days—after all, kids are in school for 12+ years, why start early? The fact is the human brain has more ability to absorb from its environment from ages 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 than at any other time in a person’s life. The more time the child spends in a prepared learning environment, the more avenues are opened to them to absorb the foundations for social interaction, academic progress, good work habits, and other critical components of a successful life.  

Five day programs provide consistency and routine, which are so critical for children at that time in their lives.  Children feel more secure, more confident, and are able to achieve better concentration skills and work habits when they are attending a high-quality educational program consistently.  Time awareness is much different in children under the age of 6; a two-, three-, or four-day a week school schedule can seem feel very random, making it difficult to concentrate, to remember rules and lessons, and establish meaningful social relationships with peers.

Sometimes parents struggle with the aspect of starting their children in a five day program, not because the child is not ready, but because the parent is not ready for the child to start.  It is always difficult for parents when children take another step in independence.  But it is vital that children be allowed this step, as this critical moment in the child’s development will not come again.

What if my 3-year-old is too loud or runs in class?  I’m worried that my child may be too “rambunctious” for the Montessori classroom.

One aspect of a multi-aged classroom is the guidance of older children for the younger ones.  Typically when young children enter the environment, they observe the behaviors and manners of the older students and conform their own behaviors to match those in the classroom.  This is a process that takes time. Understanding this, when prospective students come for their initial visit the teachers stay with the child, guiding and observing them, to assist with any issues and redirect them as necessary.

It is also worth noting the children will often behave differently when their parents are around than when they are not.  

How does the teacher know how my child is progressing without giving grades?

Montessori teachers are trained to scientifically observe the development of children.  Every teacher keeps copious notes on each student—lessons given, progress on lessons received, mastery of skills, social interactions, behavior, interests, strengths, and challenges, to name a few.  These observations and notes help inform the teacher of the direction and trajectory of each child’s progress and their unique learning style, in order to provide the materials and lessons necessary to follow each child’s lead.  

With all this freedom, aren’t the students just running around, doing whatever they want?

With freedom comes responsibility. Students have only the amount of freedom that they can handle appropriately—this is what we mean by “freedom within limits”.  The Montessori trained teacher and the classroom assistant are there to safeguard each child’s learning  and protect against interference from others, while ensuring that each child is progressing at their appropriate pace in each area of development.

One of Montessori students at the Casa dei Bambini was once asked by a visitor, “How does it feel to be at a school where you can do whatever you like?” to which the child replied, “It isn’t that we do what we like, it’s that we like what we do.”  Children enjoy the freedom to choose within the boundaries of respect, responsibility, and resourcefulness.

How do you make sure they are getting all subjects and not just one or two?

As Dr. Montessori observed, children learn best when they are interested in the topic.  Allowing children to choose their work ensures that they are interested. We know that in a prepared environment, the child will gravitate toward the skills and activities that their body and mind need to master, according to their developmental readiness. One of the boundaries is the materials and activities that the teacher has presented to the child in each area of the curriculum.  For Primary students, they must practice skills and attain mastery before moving on to the next level of complexity.  Teachers observe and keep records of each child’s work and progress.

Students in our Elementary classes create individual work plans in collaboration with their teacher.  This ensures accountability on the student’s part that they will continue to work in all areas of the curriculum, while still allowing the freedom to choose when and how that work will be accomplished.

By the time they reach the Adolescent program, students have matured and prepared themselves for assignments with daily, weekly, and monthly deadlines.

If children work at their own pace, don't they fall behind?

Moving on to new skills without mastery of the needed foundational skills is at the root of “falling behind’ in other educational settings. But in Montessori schools, children work at their own pace, while the Montessori teacher is carefully tracking each child’s work through observation, providing lessons and materials to build on the foundation of skills and knowledge already achieved.  In this way each child works at a pace that allows mastery of skills, providing the right amount of challenge, while ensuring that the child isn’t moving forward without first securing that foundation.

What do you do if a child isn’t doing anything, or doesn’t feel like working?

We know that observation by the student can be a form of absorption, but the key to observation is engagement.  If a child is peacefully engaged in active observation of another child’s work or lesson, we know that they are learning.  Sometimes children appear to be “doing nothing” in a classroom when they are actually transitioning between work, deciding what to work on next, or processing what they have just observed or learned.

Montessori education allows freedom to pursue interests, however, there are expectations in every classroom that children will choose works and achieve concentration on them.  As children get older, there is an expectation that children will investigate, practice, and complete works across the curricular areas in a prescribed amount of time.  For example, a Lower Elementary student may have a work plan that includes doing at least a minimum amount of math, language, science, history, art, music, and geography during the week—the child chooses when, and how much more than the minimum, they are interested in pursuing.  And when the work plan is completed, there is an expectation that the child will continue to work and make choices that are appropriate to the learning environment—whether that be further work in the academic areas, community work such as assisting others, or practical life work such as dusting or organizing materials.

Is Montessori right for every child?

There are as many variables as there are individuals and therefore there is no one answer to this question.  In a perfect world, we would say that Montessori is right for every child—but there can be some exceptions.  One of the most important elements for any child’s success in a Montessori program is the full cooperation and willing collaboration of the child’s parents and frequent caregivers such as grandparents, etc. Because the parents are the primary educators of the child, full support of the Montessori Method in the child’s life is vital to the ability to thrive in the Montessori environment. This includes accepting parenting recommendations, practicing respectful communications and behavior, adjusting parenting techniques when advised, and following through on plans and implementation of Montessori methods in the home.

During the admissions process,The Montessori School of the Mahoning Valley gathers data to determine whether the school is the right environment for each individual child at that moment in their development.  It is important that the child’s parents also evaluate not only if the Montessori Method may be right for their child, but right for their family as well.

At The Montessori School of the Mahoning Valley, a small non-profit private school, we have found that occasionally children with significant learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, autism or other special needs may be better served in a different learning environment with specialists trained in addressing the specific needs of those children.  

Why don’t you have computers for the preschool and kindergarten?

In preparing teachers of the young child, Dr. Montessori stated, “Never give more to the mind than you give to the hand.” Just as when we are infants, and the primary receptor of information is our mouths, so it is true for the developing 3- to 6-year-old child the hand takes on that important role. It is through the hands that children primarily receive information about the world. To prepare the hand for adult life is key, through preparation of gross motor and fine motor control—preparation which cannot take place clicking a mouse, pushing buttons, or swiping at an iPad or smartphone screen. Such operations do not engage the child’s hands and body enough to build motor skills or the super highways of the brain.

Instead of these electronic devices, we provide children with learning through movement such as manipulating knobbed puzzle pieces for fine motor control. Gross motor skills are developed through repeated opportunities to carry, balance, set down, pick up, and put away materials of varying size, weight, and shape.  And throughout all of the activities in a Montessori prepared environment, learning through movement builds the architecture of the child’s brain.

What kind of homework should we expect?

Homework, like everything in Montessori, is guided by the developmental readiness of the children.  Students in our Primary program—including Kindergarten—are not assigned homework.  The time outside of school is free for Primary students to play and have fun.

In our Lower Elementary program, children may choose to bring home projects and research topics.  However, the bulk of their work is done within regular class hours.  Because the students are using Montessori materials for academic subjects,  the traditional school textbook-and-worksheet homework for hours each night are not a feature of the MSMV Lower El program.  Students get ample opportunities to practice their skills during school, and have time for other interests outside of school.

Occasionally, long term projects with due dates may need some additional work time at home.  The important part of the long term project for the student is engaging in the process, not necessarily the product. We encourage parents to allow children to work independently on these projects, assisting them only by providing resource support—taking them to the library, or providing poster board or a shoe box, for example.

In our Upper Elementary program, students are ready to learn more about how to manage time at home as well as at school.  We provide students with a small packet of homework to be completed within the week.  This allows children to experiment with the best ways to manage homework, extracurricular activities, and home life/responsibilities. It is a gentle introduction to the homework that they will be expected to do once they graduate from MSMV.

Students in Upper El also engage in long-term projects, some aspects of which spill over into time outside of school.  As in Lower El, parents are urged to allow students to work independently by providing only resource support.  Again, we are emphasizing the student engagement in the process, not the product.

There is an expectation of MSMV Adolescent students that they will complete daily, weekly, and monthly homework assignments and projects.  Students can choose work to be done at home and work in school; time is allowed for both collaboration and completion of work during school hours.  The homework goal is to help students further prepare for their high school experience juggling homework and extracurricular activities, as well as practice meeting  multiple short- and long-term deadlines in a given period. 

How will I know what/how my child is doing in school without letter grades or homework?

Scientific research has shown that children learn more and solve problems better and more willingly when there is no actual or implied reward or punishment for their work.   Montessori education allows sequential learning in an integrated and enriched curriculum. It gives each child space to make mistakes and learn from them without judgement for every error.  This helps to keep the intrinsic motivation to learn burning within the child.

There are many important ways in which you can know and understand what your Montessori child is doing in school:

  • Listen - your Montessori child will talk about many interesting things, although not necessarily when you ask them about what they did in school!  Listen to your child at dinner time, at bath time, before bed, and you will hear them talking about a lot of things.  You will also notice the way they are talking about things — facts, suppositions, hypotheses, creative interpretations—and you will hear the growth and development taking place.
  • Observe - Observe your child’s development outside of school. Notice how your child is learning to tie shoes, button buttons, buckle belts.  Notice your child’s cooperation and manners. There are many areas of development you can observe when you are with your child outside of school.  Opportunities to observe student school work are also presented throughout the school year.  Parent Nights, our traditional Evening of Thanks celebration, and other such events are scheduled for just this purpose.  You can also periodically observe in the classroom—just call the office to find out how!
  • Attend Conferences - Twice a year we hold Conferences for parents to learn about student progress.  Each developmental level holds conferences a different way.  Some are strictly parent and teacher going over the child’s work through samples or portfolios and a teacher-prepared progress report, while others involve student self-reporting as well.  Conferences are a critical means of learning where your child is in the curriculum.  And in addition to our scheduled Conference dates, parents are welcome to phone the school during the teacher’s office hours to ask questions, and check in from time to time.
  • Read Information from School - Whether it be the school website, the weekly school newsletter, or notices sent home from the school or the office, reading the electronic and printed literature made available and recommended will help so much understanding the goals, expectations, and methods we use to “follow the child” through the curriculum.
  • Attend Parent Enrichment Events - We schedule Parent Enrichment Events throughout the school year to help parents understand more about the Montessori Method.  Understanding the Method is key to unlocking your understanding of your child’s educational journey.

Do you administer standardized testing?

We administer the IOWA Tests of Basic Skills and the companion Cognitive Abilities Tests, beginning in the 3rd year of Lower Elementary.  This is an exercise in Practical Life skills for the students because at some point in every person’s life they will be required to take some form of standardized test.  We allow children to understand their best test-taking selves by practicing these skills, but we do not “teach to the test”.  These tests provide a good measure of how all our students are progressing compared to national norms. MSMV is proud of our ITBS scores, as our students typically score well above their grade levels, and by the time they reach the Adolescent program many are scoring at post high school levels in all testing areas.  We attribute these scores to the deep learning and rich, integrated curriculum provided in Montessori prepared environments, compared to rote memorization in other environments.

We are required by law to administer the State’s standardized testing designed for public school students to Ohio EdChoice Scholarship recipients.  Children who are not participating in the EdChoice program are not given the State’s standardized tests. As with our other testing, we do not “teach to the test”.

What is MSMV’s religious affiliation?

MSMV is the Mahoning Valley’s only nonsectarian private school.  This means that we do not have any religious affiliation.  Because our community is culturally, ethnically, religiously, and socio-economically diverse, our expectation regarding religions, belief or non-belief systems is tolerance—we expect that all members of our school community will demonstrate tolerance and respect for the beliefs, opinions, and views of others.  While the children do learn about the history of world religions in the elementary program, no one religion is promoted above others. Montessori Method is a science-based curriculum and lessons regarding the formation of the solar system, the evolution of life and mankind, and civilization are all science based.

What is MSMV looking for in a student applicants?

MSMV is a wonderful environment for children who are eager to learn, curious, and bright;  who are willing to follow the rules and make respectful use of classroom materials.  MSMV students interact respectfully with others, including peers and teachers, and who are not afraid to learn from mistakes.  MSMV embraces a broad range of diversity including, cultural, ethnic, religious, and socio-economic.  
The longer a child remains with Montessori—and the sooner they begin—the more they benefit from the educational methods.  At MSMV, we seek children ages 3 and 4 to start in the Primary and continue through 8th grade.

What does MSMV look for in prospective families?

MSMV families respect and appreciate the Montessori Method and the school’s values.  They embrace the opportunities provided to learn about Montessori philosophy; and will strive to support their child’s education for life by adopting Montessori approaches to developmentally appropriate work, play, discipline, respect, and responsibility in their homes.  MSMV strives to create a team with the student’s parents, and expects a mutually respectful relationship to benefit the whole child.  MSMV expects that parents will willingly volunteer in support of the school, and make MSMV their first charitable giving priority while their children are enrolled at the school.

What are MSMV’s tuition costs?

MSMV is an independent, non-public, 501(c)3 nonprofit school and as such supports its learning programs through tuition, volunteering, and fundraising.  We are not supported by the government or by any diocese or franchising organization.  Due to responsible management of our funds, the dedication of our volunteers, and the generosity of our donors, MSMV tuitions are much lower than the median tuition for Montessori schools throughout North America. Tuition is calculated for the academic year, and there are various payment plans available. For information about our current tuition, please contact the school office.

Follow Us





 member school 1819

Living Montessori: Stephen Curry and Family

NBA superstar Stephen Curry, and his remarkable family, tell us how a Montessori education has helped shape their outlook on life in an exclusive interview, filmed at the Christian Montessori School at Lake Norman where Stephen's mother, Sonya Curry, is the head of school.

Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

RokGallery module Photo Gallery (id=322) does not have a gallery selected