Choosing a Montessori School

When you are looking for a quality Montessori school it is important to keep in mind that the name “Montessori” is not copyrighted or trademarked in any way. So anyone can open a school and call it Montessori and any school can claim that it is offering an authentic Montessori program. Schools are operated independently and are either privately owned or run by a non-profit association. The vast majority of schools calling themselves "Montessori" do offer a high quality and authentic Montessori program but a little research on your part can ensure you are making an informed choice for you and your child. It is usually the case that a Montessori school administrator will encourage parents to observe at the school before enrolling their child. This is an excellent way to assess if the school will be an environment that will suit the developmental needs of your child. You will be invited to observe in a classroom setting while the children are in attendance. Typically you will be offered a brief history of the school, program offerings and school policies. It is important to enquire about the training and experience level of the teachers and whether parent education evenings are offered. You might also consider asking if the school has an affiliation with a recognized Montessori organization.

Your Visit

It is advised that parents arrange a visit to the Montessori schools they are interested in to determine if they are a suitable fit for your child and family.
When visiting prospective schools, here are some questions to keep in mind which will help indicate a quality Montessori programme:
  • Is the physical environment beautiful?
  • Is there a feeling of peace?
  • Is there a variety of different kinds of work being done?
  • Is there an absence of worksheets and workbooks?
  • Do the children seem to be relaxed and happy?
  • Do the children seem to have a sense of purpose?
  • Are the children kind and courteous with each other?
  • Are the children concentrating very hard on their work?
  • Are the children in primary appearing to work seriously even while some are casually carrying on conversations with others?
  • Does the teacher appear to be constantly aware of the whole room, intervening only when children seem aimless or non-constructive, or are bothering others?
These are the traits of quality Montessori classrooms.
(List courtesy of Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, Angeline Stoll Lillard)

Detailed descriptions of Montessori environments can be found by level:
Toddler Community (18 mos-2 ½ years) Guidelines - Infant
Casa/Primary level (2 ½/3-6 years) Guidelines - Primary
Elementary level (6-12 years) Guidelines - Elementary

Global Television Presentation about Choosing a Montessori School