In answer to all your questions, here is a short 3-minute video to give you 10 things to look for when choosing for a Montessori school.
Choosing a Montessori school
Hi, I’m Simone Davies, I’m a Montessori teacher and a Montessori mother and I know how difficult it can be to choose a Montessori school. You’re never quite sure if what you’re getting is really Montessori. Montessori was never copyrighted as a name so anyone can call themselves to Montessori School. So I’m going to give you ten things to look out for next time you visit a school so you can know if it really is true Montessori.
1. Montessori materials at the ready
So the first thing to look out for is Montessori materials that are available for the children to work with at any time, so you’ll see them laid out on their shelves. For example, in a classroom of three to six year olds, you’ll see recognisable materials like a pink tower, and a brown stair.
2. Activities that are beautifully presented
The second thing you should look for is activities that are clean and beautifully presented, maybe in trays and baskets, and without any missing pieces.
3. Mixed age group classes
The third thing to check is that there are mixed age group classes, you should have three to six year olds in the class six to nine year olds and nine to 12 year olds, then you have older children helping younger children, and the younger children can learn from the older ones.
4. Uninterrupted work period
The fourth thing to check for is an uninterrupted work period for the children. This ideally is around three hours long, where the children are free to choose what they want to do in that time. They might, for example, choose a maths work, and their friend next to them might be choosing some language and maybe there’s two children sitting next to them who are working together on a project.
5. Happy, independent children
The fifth thing to look for is whether the children are happy and independent at school, perhaps you can arrange an observation during school hours to actually see this in action.
6. No (or minimal) tests
The sixth thing to look for is to actually ask the teachers whether or not they use testing. Some schools are required by government regulations, in which case there should be very little testing more done as a worksheet without any competition and without finding out the results. Because actually, in a Montessori classroom, the teacher should know where every child is up to and therefore you don’t need to test.
7. Montessori-trained teachers
For seven the thing to check is if the teachers have Montessori qualifications, I like the AMI training that I did because it’s the training organization that Maria Montessori is family set up to maintain the quality and the integrity of the training.
8. Children treated with respect
The eighth thing to look for in a Montessori classroom is that the teacher is treating the children with respect and as a guide saying, “I don’t know, let’s find out together”. So the children are encouraged to actually find out the answers for themselves and also to find out the answers together.
9. Natural, child-led learning
We see natural learning as opposed to forced learning. Instead of the teacher standing at the front of the classroom, saying what the children need to learn, the children are free to explore the environment and make discoveries for themselves.
10. Concrete learning materials
And the last thing to look for is concrete learning materials. The thing I love most about Montessori is that the children handle the materials so as opposed to looking at a blackboard. They’re actually exploring and making discoveries with their hands.