Characteristics of an Authentic Montessori School

Looking for an authentic Montessori School can be a great challenge. Especially because many don't know what to look for. In addition, the word Montessori is not trademarked and can be used by anyone. The largest indicator of an authentic Montessori School is an accreditation by the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), which discloses that the school follows AMS guidelines and all the teachers are certified and accredited by AMS. It takes a school three years to gain this status. So newer schools may only be full members of the AMS before they become eligible to apply for accreditation. Schools should display their AMS credentials for the school and each individual teacher, they will also advertise the AMS logo on their website.

AMS has a search engine on their website that allows you to locate real Montessori schools in your area. Click here to access the page.

In addition to this, an authentic Montessori School will possess the qualities below as outlined by AMS. We recommend that you use this list as a checklist when visiting Montessori Schools to determine how reliable they are. 

The Environment

  • American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma's and certifications are clearly displayed
  • Is neat and orderly
  • Is arranged for free movement without disturbing floor or table work
  • Has sufficient number of chairs and tables
  • Has furnishings of suitable size
  • Has a variety of table sizes for group and individual work
  • Provides a neutral background for materials and eliminates visual distraction
  • Has plants and animals
  • Has adequate shelving for materials
  • Has an uncluttered appearance
  • Provides free access to materials without involving a teacher
  • Provides sufficient Montessori materials for:
    • sensorial exercises
    • practical life
    • math
    • reading
    • geography
    • history
    • science
  • Has materials which are clean, complete and in good condition
  • Has signs or pictures at child's eye level
  • Has free access to outdoor area
  • Provides an atmosphere conducive to learning

The Directress

  • Is trained by an AMS/AMI recognized school
  • Sets a good example in neatness and grooming
  • Uses good grammar
  • Has a pleasing tone of voice
  • Does not whisper
  • Does not raise voice or yell
  • Does not talk excessively when giving lessons
  • Observes without appearing to do so
  • Is aware of total classroom situation
  • Prevents disturbances

Note that having a Bachelors in Education is not necessary, in fact, it impedes upon one's ability to fully emerge into the Montessori Philosophy. Unless it is an Elementary Montessori Program, in which case, the teacher is required by the state to hold a teaching degree.