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Executive Function in Montessori Education

Measuring Results in Montessori Education with “Executive Function” Life Skills

Even during their first years, children acquire many skills which prepare them for later life. Based on extensive research, Executive Function capabilities are key developments in the preschool years. Sometimes called the “air traffic controller of your brain,” Executive Function is the set of neurocognitive functions that help the brain organize and act on information. These functions enable us to pay attention, control behavior, and think flexibly – essentially, the tools that are necessary to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

How important is Executive Function? Recent studies have shown these skills are more predictive of academic success than IQ. And like many skills, Executive Function develops through practice. That is why it is crucial to nurture these skills at an early age.

The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector in Washington, D.C., and Reflection Sciences, a Minnesota start-up educational technology company, are proud to announce a new partnership to measure Executive Function in Montessori and developmentally based education. In this new program, NCMPS will work with Reflection Sciences to offer training and tools to measure these essential skills using the Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS).

The MEFS is a valid and reliable measure of EF that is based on the latest neuroscience, delivered on touch-screen tablet, and takes less than 5 minutes.

Jacqueline Cossentino, Research Director of the NCMPS, stated, “The MEFS gives us a simple, reliable, non-intrusive way to prove something we’ve suspected in Montessori for decades – that Montessori prepared environments, trained teachers, and learning materials support optimal child development.  Now we can measure and compare Montessori’s effectiveness.”

Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., Co-founder and CEO of Reflection Sciences agrees with the Montessori approach. “We are so impressed with what Montessori Education does to promote Executive Function. By cultivating reflection though nearly everything they do in the classroom, the Montessori approach embodies best practices for building EF skills. This is such an important part of early childhood education and they are embracing it. This is likely to have lasting positive impacts for their children, and now they will be able to measure these results.”

NCMPS is introducing the new program at eight training locations, beginning in October, 2016. They will offer the MEFS to their partner schools, while Reflection Sciences will facilitate the onboarding of new schools to its cloud-based web portal and continue to offer support and additional services, such as Professional Development about EF and assistance with data analysis.

“With this new partnership, our educators will be more intentional in nurturing Executive Function skills, so that our students are better prepared to learn, socialize and handle any situation that may develop in elementary school,” added Cossentino.

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Call to Action:

Montessori schools, or other developmentally based programs, who are interested in taking advantage of this exciting partnership can contact NCMPS at jcossentino@public-montessori.org.

Or contact Nicole Stucke, nstucke@reflectionsciences.com.                                        

 

 

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The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector is dedicated to bringing more publicly supported, fully implemented Montessori education to more families.  NCMPS works with teacher and schools, providing consultation, coaching services, workshops, measurement tools, and more.  Learn more at www.ncmps.org.

 

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Founded by scientists at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development in 2014, Reflection Sciences provides professional development, training and tools for assessing and improving executive function skills. Their Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS) is the first objective, scientifically-based, and normed direct assessment of executive function for ages 2 years and up that only takes 5 minutes to complete. MEFS is a fun game for students, but it provides vital data for educators and parents.

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