Date of Award


Document Type

Action Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education



First Advisor

Sarah Hassebroek


Montessori Early Childhood


Under current circumstances, educational issues such as the achievement gap, non-cognitive development, Executive Function, and students with challenging behaviors impact day-to-day classroom practices and fundamentally reshape the results of education. The purpose of this research was to utilize the Montessori environment and principles, as well as the “normalization” approach developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, to help students with behavioral and learning challenges find the balance of their mental developmental processes and maximize their academic achievement at the same time. This action research conducted focused-group case studies of the Montessori Normalization process for children possessing behavioral and learning challenges at a preschool in rural China. The research applied pre-and post-assessment for the 3-6-year-old participants to investigate the evidence of improvement. The assessment utilized indicators based on symptom guidelines for ADHD, ASD, Learning disorders, and Learning Difficulties, published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study’s findings indicate that the Montessori-guided early childhood education intervention had helped students with behavioral and learning challenges, thereby providing an alternative solution for addressing the challenge of the development gap. This research also suggested that Montessori-based classrooms provide a positive, nurturing environment for gifted children with learning difficulties (exceptional learners) who confront challenges in a mainstream classroom.