So it is no surprise that there are thousands of schools with Montessori in their name. The Montessori community prizes diversity. Each Montessori school is unique. So, how do you know whether or not a school follows Montessori principles? What exactly is Montessori anyway?
When you are considering a Montessori school look for the following:
Membership in the American Montessori Society
Belonging to the national association is something only about 1,100 of the 8,000 Montessori schools in the U.S. actually do. No school is required to join the AMS. Schools are not accredited by the AMS.
The Teaching Style
Montessori teachers don't teach in the normally accepted sense of that word. They facilitate, guide and direct their students. If you see a teacher talking to or lecturing a group of children sitting and listening, chances are that the school does not adhere to Montessori methods. Montessori trained teachers teach 1:1 with each child.
The Class Will Include Several Ages.
You won't find a 1st grade per se in a Montessori school. Students will be in groups spanning a range of several years. The idea behind that is that the older children in effect teach their younger classmates. The interaction of older and younger children is a fundamental part of the Montessori approach. Montessori age groupings are typically in three year cycles, 0-3,3-6, 6-9, 9-12.
Work Is Not Graded.
The essence of Dr. Montessori's method is that children learn by doing and exploring at their own pace. A Montessori teacher never hands back work with red marks and grades on them. The teacher suggests things to explore but ultimately the child is at liberty to choose what he wishes to learn at any given moment during his day at school.
Teachers Trained and Certified in Montessori Methods and Techniques.
The AMS and the Association Montessori Internationale offer training to degreed individuals who wish to teach using the Montessori methods.