A main reason why we do not use punishments and rewards is because they do not work.

In the study, researchers separated 154 nursery school children into one of three groups and had all of them try chicory, a bitter salad plant, during break time. One group was merely asked to try the veggie with no other incentive, while the other two received bribes for trying the green: one group was offered stickers to win a toy and another received verbal praise, the Daily Mail reports.

Researchers found that bribery worked in the first trial, with 90 percent of kids who got verbal praise and 85 percent who got stickers ending up eating the food. On the other hand, in the group that didn’t receive a bribe, 85 percent of the children tried the veggie.

However, researchers noticed something interesting about the kids’ eating habits over time. After all three groups were given chicory to eat eight times in a month, the group that received no incentive ate the veggie the most. Those who received bribes, meanwhile, were not more likely to eat the green.

Arbitrary rewards and verbal encouragement might convince a child to alter their choices initially, but over time it wears off and the child is worse off than ever.

The Opposite Of The Intended Effect

Why is it that giving children praise for being smart promotes dishonesty?

…Noting previous research which shows ability praise can undermine a child’s motivation to learn when they encounter difficulties, University of California San Diego Professor Gail Heyman, co-author of the studies, said, “Our findings show that the negative effects of ability praise extend beyond this to promoting dishonesty, and that this occurs in children as young as three years of age.”

Montessori discovered that besides having unpredictable effects, praise is an unnecessary distraction. The child is motivated from within.

Experts Remain Puzzled

Doing philosophy makes kids better at math and reading.

Philosophical discussions about truth, fairness or kindness appear to give a small but significant boost to the maths and literacy progress of primary school pupils, although experts remain puzzled as to why.

Children in Montessori elementary schools are constantly talking about fairness and respectfulness simultaneously as they work on math and reading together.

Language Is A Movement

Marieke Longchamp and Jean-Luc Velay, two researchers at the cognitive neuroscience laboratory at Aix-Marseille University, have carried out a study of 76 children, aged three to five. The group that learned to write letters by hand were better at recognising them than the group that learned to type them on a computer. They repeated the experiment on adults, teaching them Bengali or Tamil characters. The results were much the same as with the children.

Drawing each letter by hand improves our grasp of the alphabet because we really have a “body memory…

Typing Is Not Writing

If you take the AMI training, they won’t let you take notes with a laptop. You write, partially because you forget and misunderstand what you type on your computer.

Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand. As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes. In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.

No Not That Kind Of Spell

A new study has “discovered” what Dr. Montessori wrote about a century ago.

When inventing a spelling, the child is engaged in mental reflection and practice with words, not just memorizing. This strategy strengthens neuronal pathways so as the reader/writer becomes more sophisticated with invented spelling, she or he is developing a repertoire of more and more correctly spelled words at the same time. These words are stored in the word form area of the brain where the child can retrieve them automatically as sight words for reading and eventually as correctly spelled words for writing.

Memorizing a list of correct spellings does not help first-plane children learn how to spell. Correcting their spelling for them doesn’t help them learn how to spell. Letting them spontaneously learn how to spell is how they learn to spell.

Therefore, as a preparatory exercise, we offer to the child an alphabet which will be described below. By choosing the letters of the alphabet and placing them one beside the others, he composes words. His manual work is only that of taking known shapes from a case, and spreading them out on a mat. The word is built up, letter by letter, in correspondence with its component sounds. Since the letters are movable objects, it is easy to correct by displacement the composition which is made. This represents a studied analysis of the word and an excellent means for improving spelling.

It is a real study, an exercise of the intelligence, free from mechanism. It is not mixed up with the interesting exercise of the necessity for producing writing. Hence the intellectual energy devoted to this new interest may be expended without weariness in a surprising amount of work. — Montessori, M. “The Discovery Of The Child” p250, Kalakshetra


Moffitt and a team of researchers studied a group of 1,000 people born in New Zealand in 1972 and 1973, tracking them from birth to age 32. The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the best evidence yet on the payoff for learning self-discipline early on.

The researchers define self-control as having skills like conscientiousness, self-discipline and perseverance, as well as being able to consider the consequences of actions in making decisions.

The children who struggled with self-control as preschoolers were three times as likely to have problems as young adults. They were more prone to have a criminal record; more likely to be poor or have financial problems; and they were more likely to be single parents.

The direct aims of every exercise of practical life are:

  1. Focus of attention
  2. Control and coordination
  3. Motive of purposeful intent
  4. Integration of mind and body

Practical life exercises offer children as young as three-years old an experience with consequence and the opportunity to self-correct and persevere through error without being corrected while being mindful of others. I’ve been told that you can have an authentic, real Montessori Children’s House with nothing but practical life materials and the kids will turn out great.