Top 10 Things to Look for in a Montessori School

It's that time of year again.  I'm always amazed at how early we start thinking about summer camp and the next school year.  If you want to enroll your children in a quality program, the early bird definitely gets the worm.  As I was writing an article about how to choose a Montessori program for your children, it occurred to me that it would be helpful to have a checklist of things to look for while you are visiting Montessori schools.

Since all recognized AMI Montessori schools have the same foundation, you will find all of these things in each AMI school.  Where you will see the difference is when you start visiting schools that are not recognized - those schools that make an attempt at a Montessori education but don't really hit the mark.

The following characteristics should be at any authentic Montessori school.  (Note: they are not listed in order of importance.)

  • Children are joyful, self-motivated, enthusiastic learners

  • They are socialized and able to solve their own conflicts

  • Older children are fluent readers who are also able to understand mathematical concepts

  • Children possess a natural self-esteem

  • Everyone is courteous, compassionate, and respectful in their interactions

  • Children have the freedom to choose their own work - movement and learning are closely connected.

  • Children are in mixed age groups, corresponding to planes of development which allows them to relate to children who are both older and younger.

  • Guides (teachers) carefully observe each child to determine the ideal time to present new information and experiences.

  • The classroom experience should foster independence - the desire of each child to master his or her environment.

  • The use of self-correcting materials allows children to manipulate and explore at their own pace.

  • Guides with the most thorough education will hold a certificate for their program from AMI.

Other Questions to Ask the Head of School:

  • Who accredits or oversees the school?

  • What is the schedule?  How many work periods are included?

  • Do you have mixed-age groups?  What are the age groups?

  • What before or after-school programs are available?  

  • What are the drop-off and pick-up times of each program?

  • What is the tuition cost and what does it include?  

  • Are there other expenses outside of tuition?

  • My child is ____ years old.  What program will he/she be enrolled in?  

  • Is there space available for my child(ren)?

  • Do you have a waiting list?

  • May I come and visit?

  • How many children are in each program and/or classroom? 

  • What is the teacher-student ratio?

  • What are the teacher qualifications?

  • Do you have any after-school clubs?

  • Where do children usually go after they graduate from your program?

  • Is this a year-round program or only during the school year?

  • Do you have a summer program?

  • Can my child(ren) come part-time?

  • Are meals and/or diapers included?

  • Do students wear uniforms?

  • What is the average tenure of your teachers?

Danielle Cloe