How to Choose a Montessori School
We recently hosted a group of administrators and teachers from an area public school. They spent time in both the primary classrooms and elementary classroom. A majority of these observers had never visited a Montessori environment before this day.
One of the questions they responded to on their observation form was, what did you find most interesting? Comments included: “The variety of cooperative learning activities and how the kids remained engaged without direct supervision”. How the kids owned their work and the sense of accomplishment achieved” “Teachers were asking students versus telling them to establish a dialogue”. “Active, helpful, involved teacher support of individualized instruction for the students”, very respectful kids”. “Wow! The calmness and overall atmosphere here were something I have not observed in a traditional classroom.” And finally, “I smiled the entire time I was observing, thank you!”
Outcomes of a true Montessori program are truly amazing when we respect the integrity of this finely integrated program developed for children and a program that supports human development. Today’s research continues to support Dr. Montessori’s scientific observations and understanding of children’s development.
There is no legal way to prevent any person from labeling a program “Montessori”. The best way to make sure a school is a “true” Montessori school is for you to familiarize yourself with the Montessori Method and to check the school’s credentials.
Check to see that the school you are looking at is affiliated by a national or international Montessori organization such as American Montessori Society (AMS) or the Association Montessori International (AMI).
Check to see that the teachers have their Montessori certification for the appropriate age they are teaching.
Be certain that the program offers a full complement of Montessori materials.
Programs should have the following components: the appropriate multi-age groupings (3-6 for preschool,6-9,9-12 or 6-12 for elementary), integrated specialty programs (music, art, physical education, etc.) around the uninterrupted work periods.
Uninterrupted, prolonged work periods should be 90 minutes to 3-hours, considering the 3-hour work cycle as ideal.
Check to see that parent education programs promote the understanding of Montessori principles and curriculum.
Inquire if Montessori teachers are supported through professional development, conferences, consultations and administrative support.