Social Skills and Success (Or, Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Montessori)

A recent study published in July by the American Journal of Public Health has confirmed what every Montessori teacher already knows, that grace and courtesy lessons are simple but profound keys to success in life.

Researchers at Penn State followed children from kindergarten into their mid-twenties. The investigative team found a strong correlation between children’s social competencies in preschool and how those same children fared later in life.

"The kinds of things that we think only academics would be predictive for, turns out it's wrong," said Mark Greenberg, a professor of psychology at Penn State University. "Turns out children's ability to get along with others and manage themselves well in positive ways affects both their academic outcomes and their labor market outcomes in adulthood."

If this seems incredibly obvious to you, you’re not alone. It’s obvious to us, too. That’s why Montessori teachers at all age levels spend portions of their day helping children resolve their differences amongst themselves, so that the children build strong cooperative skills on their own. Grace and courtesy are cornerstones of the Montessori curriculum because those same skills help lay the foundation of the peaceful, harmonious advancement of our civilization.

Dr. Montessori, a renowned advocate for world peace in her day, might ask the question in another way, “What good are geniuses if they go to war with one another?” And mind you, war is not just reserved for nations. Private little wars break loose all through society on a daily basis, whether in political arenas, in business, in the media, on the baseball diamond, or in the home.

Yes, we have a lot work to do before this world looks like the utopia envisioned by Montessori and other visionaries. But as the good doctor pointed out back in 1907, that work starts as soon as the child is born. If children are taught from a very early age that grace and courtesy are paramount, those qualities will not only transform the children, but those same children will in turn transform the world.

It sounds so simple. But simple is not always easy.

For more information, check out these links below.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/07/16/53041/20-year-study-shows-kindergarteners-who-play-nice/

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302630

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