The Montessori method is a comprehensive, child-centered, developmentalist philosophy of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in Rome, Italy, in the early 1900s. The Montessori method differs from traditional approaches to education, and has had limited exposure in the U.S. until the last 20 years. Despite this growth, little research data exists on the effectiveness of the method or of parent understanding the method. This research project attempted to determine parent understanding of the Montessori method of education at three Montessori schools in Massachusetts that educate children from toddlers to grade 8. The objective of the research was to design, implement, and analyze a survey that measured parent understanding of the Montessori principles and classroom practices. The survey was developed using the Montessori principles as the foundation. The goal was to determine both the extent of parent understanding of the Montessori principles and parent perception of how these principles are carried out in the Montessori classroom. Parents and guardians were asked a total of 10 questions, 7 of which were five-point Likert scales. The quantitative questions specifically addressed the six Montessori principles and were designed to test parents’ overall understanding of each principle. Responses ranged from a principle being not at all important to very important. The qualitative portion of the survey instrument utilized three open-ended, self-completed questions designed to reveal a range of parent perceptions about Montessori education and classroom practices. The surveys revealed that parent values and thinking do line up with some aspects of the Montessori method and philosophy. The surveys also revealed that parents seem to value classroom practices contrary to the founding principles. What parents value and what parents think about regarding concepts such as goal setting, achievement, competition with peers, and teachers preparing and presenting lessons is in direct contrast with some of the Montessori founding principles and intentions. If Montessori schools wish to remain viable, they will need to reconcile the Montessori principles with conflicting parent values and, further, determine how to better align their principles with parent views and desires for their children.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organization change; Montessori method of education -- Massachusetts; Education -- Parent participation

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Nero, Susan;