Buyer Beware! All Montessori schools are not created equal!
The name “Montessori” is not trademarked or legally protected. Therefore, any institution can call itself a Montessori school.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to determine the “authenticity” of the schools you are researching.
Is the school accredited by Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)?
This organization, founded by Maria Montessori, represents the most exacting standards of excellence for Montessori schools. Only an AMI-accredited school delivers the authentic educational philosophy of Maria Montessori.
Are the teachers AMI-trained?
Montessori teachers need specific training in order to use the Montessori materials in the classroom and to teach the Montessori Method. Applicants for this year-long training must already possess a BA or BS.
Arbor Montessori is not only accredited by AMI, the internationally recognized standard of quality for Montessori schools, but by SAIS-SACS, which represents a school’s commitment to maintain only the highest principles and values, while speaking with its own voice and its own vision.
Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was founded in 1929 by Maria Montessori to ensure the integrity of her pedagogical legacy. Because the word or name “Montessori” is not a trademark or franchise, any institution can call itself a Montessori school with impunity. Therefore, AMI provides schools that wish to offer an authentic Montessori program a set of internationally recognized standards of quality. Parents are assured that schools that are AMI-accredited follow Montessori’s principles and practices in their original integrity and completeness.
To receive AMI recognition, each classroom in the school must have:
- A fully-trained teacher who has completed both a college undergraduate degree and AMI’s year-long training program;
- A complete set of authorized Montessori classroom materials;
- A three-year range of ages within the single classroom;
- An uninterrupted three-hour work cycle each morning.
Schools apply to become an AMI-Montessori school annually. The recognition status is based upon the training of their teachers as well as their compliance with the pedagogical standards.
To verify that these requirements are met, trained consultants evaluate AMI schools every three years.
Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
Accreditation means that a school has complied with quality standards, was evaluated by an outside group of peer professionals, has implemented a school plan focused on strategic improvement and student performance, and has garnered the recognition of both the The voluntary accreditation process requires:
- compliance with a set of formal standards, covering the school’s
- vision and purpose
- governance and leadership
- teaching and learning
- documentation and use of results
- resources and support systems
- stakeholder communication and relationships
- commitment to continuous improvement
- an in-depth self-study conducted by the school
- a visit from a committee of trained peers to review the self-study and the school’s answers to the accreditation standards
- the creation of a written visit report by the visiting team, including commendations and recommendations regarding all aspects of the school’s functioning
- Re-accreditation must occur every five years
Other Arbor memberships include:
AAAIS: Atlanta Association of Independent Schools
MAA: Montessori Administrators Association
MAG: Montessori Administrators of Georgia
MISBO: Mid-South Independent School Business Officers
NAMTA: North American Montessori Teachers’ Association