Trust for Learning will support a one-year study of four highly successful, Montessori-based, early childhood and parent engagement programs in vulnerable communities, in order to develop an evidence and experience-based template for implementing an effective Birth-6 family/learning center. This study will be supplemented by a survey of student outcomes across a broad range of Montessori programs, to provide a data set for studying how Montessori practice contributes to student success, thereby contributing to best practice in early childhood education. The Trust will share the preliminary research and survey results in a symposium aimed at educators, policymakers, grantmakers and the media.
Over the last 18 months, the Trust has supported the Montessori Leaders Collaborative ('MLC'), a collection of national Montessori leaders, because Montessori offers a comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum that builds academic and social-emotional skills in children across the socioeconomic spectrum. An MLC working group identified the four existing family centers that will be the subject of this study. These centers use Montessori principles to offer high-quality early childhood education along with pre-natal, parent-toddler, and parent education programs. The working group will (a) document best practices at these centers, (b) document the academic and social-emotional outcomes of Montessori students in other existing programs, (c) define the factors that make Montessori a high-quality early childhood intervention, (d) determine what obstacles and opportunities exist in creating family centers, (e) develop guidelines for implementing an effective Birth-6 family/learning center, and (f) disseminate the preliminary results of this work in a symposium that will inform the field of early childhood education and cultivate a community of practice stemming from such centers. This work will draw on the deep expertise of MLC and its members in child development, teacher training and effective learning environments.
This study seeks to develop evidence and experience-based guidelines for implementing effective Birth-6 family/learning centers that can inform best practice in the fields of child development, early childhood education, K-12 education, teacher preparation, parent/community engagement and community development. To do so, the Trust, through its partners, will:
1) Develop a white paper reviewing existing literature on early childhood development, including Montessori philosophy (June 2013-Winter 2014)
2) Collect and analyze data on the demographics of, and the academic and social-emotional outcomes for, children participating in four selected family centers and in a broader range of Montessori programs (June 2013 - Spring 2014)
(3) Examine and describe seven guiding principles of Montessori's philosophy of child development, to articulate the core principles that contribute to the success of high-quality Montessori programs (Fall-Winter 2013)
(4) Examine and document the operations of four high-quality school/community centers using Montessori to meet the developmental needs of young children and families in vulnerable communities, including their organizational structure, funding streams and various local conditions affecting implementation (such as community norms and access to teacher training) (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)
(5) Publicize and conduct a symposium aimed at educators, policymakers, grant makers and the media to present the preliminary analysis and research and to initiate a community of practice focused on expanding, replicating and strengthening the work of the subject centers (June 2014)
Education is the gateway to economic opportunity, robust civic participation, and healthy human development, yet too many children do not have access to the education they need. According to NACCRRA, more than 11 million children under age 5 spend, on average, 36 hours per week in childcare. Brain research demonstrates that the first 5 years are crucial, and that caregivers' training and ability to provide a stimulating environment significantly impact child outcomes, but NACCRRA finds that only 12 states require caregivers to receive training in early childhood education.
Science also tells us that the most significant learning depends on development of executive functioning and social-emotional skills. However, too few early childhood programs have a strategy for developing these skills and preparing children for lives of innovation and problem-solving.
Montessori provides a framework for meeting these needs. It offers: well-established, nationwide programs for training teachers for infancy, preschool and beyond; a comprehensive, science-based curriculum with a strategy for developing academic AND social-emotional skills; a seamless learning continuum between preschool and school programs; and a strong culture of parent education and engagement.
Montessori has flourished primarily in the private sector. However, there are 500 public Montessori schools in the United States, including intergenerational, early childhood programs that are highly successful with children and parents in vulnerable communities. These programs develop strong academic and social-emotional skills in very young children and build strong families. This commitment will build evidence-based understanding of these programs' success and how they can be replicated.
Trust for Learning seeks funding partners to support the research and analysis of these highly effective birth-6 family/learning centers, as well as efforts to disseminate the research results and initiate a community of practice focused on expanding, replicating and strengthening these centers. The Trust also seeks media support in publicizing the research results and the community of practice.
Trust for Learning and its partners can offer evidence-based, best-practice information on how to build and deliver high-quality, early childhood educational programming, family education programming and teacher training and professional development that is in concert with the needs, and helps optimize the potential, of the developing child.
Trust for Learning seeks funding partners to support the research and analysis of these highly effective Birth-6 family/learning centers, as well as the symposium that will disseminate preliminary research results and initiate a community of practice focused on expanding, replicating and strengthening the centers. The Trust also seeks media support in publicizing the symposium and the results of the research.
Trust for Learning and its partners can offer evidence-based, best-practice information on how to build and deliver high-quality, early childhood educational programming, family education programming and teacher training and professional development that is in concert with the needs, and helps optimize the potential, of the developing child. The Trust can also offer information and strategies for innovative funding initiatives, cross-sector collaboration, and effective collaboration among non-profit organizations.