Qualities to look for in an authentic Montessori School.

Is the teacher(s) credentialed for the level in which is being taught?

Maria Montessori was very specific in her approach to educating children at different ages. Montessori teacher education is divided into five age groups, 0-3 years, 3-6 years, 6-9 years, 9-12 years and secondary education. There is specific teacher training for each of those levels. Make sure that the person who will be teaching your child holds a credential for that particular age group. The methodology and materials change significantly for each age group. Only teachers who have been trained at a specific level will have an understanding of how to teach children at that particular age.

Does the classroom have mixed age groups?

Montessori, again, was very specific about having mixed age groups. Children at 0-3 are often times separated due to safety and quality of care reasons. Beginning at age three, children should be in class with other children within that three year age group. Children ages 3-6 (three- kindergarten) are together. The mixed age groups allow for many wonderful things to take place in the classroom, including peer teaching, accommodating each child’s developmental and academic needs, and learning appropriate social interactions, just to name a few.

Is the classroom a prepared environment?

Montessori classrooms should be beautiful, peaceful and contain a full complement of Montessori material. The teacher, through the teacher education program, not only learns how to use the material but the theory behind the Montessori Method as well. Authentic Montessori classrooms are places where the children are working purposefully and contentedly. The children should be using a variety of materials and working purposefully in every curricular area of the room.

Children should have certain freedoms, depending on their age.

In Children’s House, they should have the freedom of movement, choice of work and repetition of work. Freedom does not mean “free for all.” The Montessori classroom should be a peaceful setting where children work purposefully. In the Children’s House classroom, the teachers plan for and give individual presentations. The child’s readiness drives the curriculum, not his chronological age. There should be large blocks of uninterrupted work time in the morning and afternoon.

The Montessori classroom should nurture the human spirit.

It should be a place where individual differences are not only respected but valued. The classroom should be a place of cooperative learning, respect and responsibility. In Montessori, we like to say we educate “the whole child.” This means we look at the child from the social, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, physical and artistic standpoint. Montessorians are committed to continued growth in all areas. Children in a Montessori classroom should appear happy and engaged in their learning. They develop a love of learning, which extends far beyond the current classroom and time. Montessori, if done well, is a preparation for life.

Fun facts about Montessori:

Montessori is one of the fastest growing forms of education for young children in the world.

A conservative estimate is that there are upwards of 25,000 Montessori schools in 110 countries

Alexander Graham Bell provided financial support directly to Dr. Montessori. Helped establish the first Montessori school in Canada in 1912 at Beinn Bhreagh, his Nova Scotia home.

Woodrow Wilson, President of The United States of America had a Montessori classroom installed in the basement of the Whitehouse during his term of office for staff to send their children to and his daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. Margaret Wilson was on the committee that brought Dr Montessori to the USA in 1915.

Many parents are attracted to the Montessori education philosophy because it encourages problem-solving and independent thinking, allowing children to feel ‘very socially comfortable and confident.’

Famous graduates of Montessori programs:

Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia

Jeff Bezos, financial analyst, founder, AMAZON.COM

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders, GOOGLE.COM

Julia Child, famous chef, star of many TV cooking shows and author of numerous cookbooks

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, editor, former first lady (John F. Kennedy)

Prince William and Prince Harry, English royal family

Anne Frank, famous diarist from World War II