Alive Montessori & Private School (est. 2014)
50% off the first three months for new elementary students. [View profile]
|Moderately orthodox||$7,500 to $14,500|
Central Montessori Schools - York Mills (est. 1995)
Central Montessori Schools in Toronto offers instruction from nursery to grade six, with enrolment of 900 day students and tuition starting at $5,900. [View profile]
Clanmore Montessori School (est. 1997)
Clanmore Montessori School in southeast Oakville offers a full spectrum, co-ed Montessori program from Toddler to Middle School. Tuition starts at $7,750. CCMA accredited. Member Oakville Independent Schools. Licenced. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$7,750 to $16,500|
The Element High School (est. 2003)
We nurture focused, engaged and internally motivated students who strive to do their best. The Element High School provides conditions that will put youth ‘in their element,’ in school and beyond. [View profile]
Forest Hill Montessori School (est. 1996)
Conveniently located in Midtown Toronto, our Junior and Elementary campuses are a popular choice for families seeking exceptional childcare and the very best education for their children. [View profile]
OMS Montessori (est. 1966)
OMS Montessori (formerly Ottawa Montessori School) is an alternative private school that offers programs from 18 months to High School. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$12,864 to $19,260|
Performance Montessori (est. 2015)
Kids from 0-7 absorb multiple languages, music & develop sports skills VERY easily. Performance Montessori is a multilingual school exposing kids (1.5 - 9 yrs) to multiple languages, sports & music like no other program. [View profile]
|Moderately orthodox||$10,800 to $18,000|
Royal Cachet Montessori School (est. 2006)
Royal Cachet Montessori School is a Montessori school that offers programs from nursery to grade three in Markham. Its average class size is five to 15 students. [View profile]
TMS School (est. 1961)
Internationally recognized since 1961, TMS is a not-for-profit independent university preparatory school located in Richmond Hill where students, faculty and staff regularly Go Beyond. [View profile]
|$14,075 to $25,440|
Toronto French Montessori (est. 2000)
Toronto French Montessori offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in North York. Its average class size is 15 students. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$7,320 to $15,090|
Westside Montessori Academy (est. 2008)
Westside Montessori Academy, located at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver offers a true Montessori education to children aged 2.5 to Grade 7. [View profile]
|Moderately orthodox||$5,050 to $10,750|
Westside Montessori School (est. 2008)
An authentic, CCMA accredited Montessori School located in downtown Toronto, offering programs for Toddlers, Casa and Elementary children. [View profile]
Century Private School (est. 1994)
Century Montessori Schools in Richmond Hill runs from preschool to grade twelve, with class sizes as low as 12 students. [View profile]
|Non-orthodox||$8,400 to $26,800|
Ellington Montessori School (est. 1990)
Ellington Montessori School, in Toronto, offers pre-school to eight grade individualized education since 1990. Small class sizes, lead by dedicated staff ensure that your child's needs are met. [View profile]
|$7,900 to $14,000|
Enquiring Minds Montessori Casa (est. 2012)
At Enquiring Minds Montessori Casa we have created a unique learning experience that fosters academic and artistic excellence in a caring and challenging environment. [View profile]
|Moderately orthodox||$4,500 to $11,750|
Peel Montessori Private School (est. 1992)
Peel Montessori School offers an enriched, personalized program. Emphasis is on strong academics, and the development of personal excellence (leadership skills, creativity) in a supportive, family-like environment. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$7,500 to $15,000|
Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) (est. 1969)
Rowntree Montessori Schools is a montessori school that offers programs from Pre-kindergarten to Grade 8 in Brampton. [View profile]
|$4,300 to $11,700|
Tall Pines School (est. 1987)
Tall Pines School in Brampton provides enhanced Montessori and traditional classes from Infant to Grade Eight, is the longest accredited CCMA Montessori school in Canada, and is a leader in 21st Century education. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$7,813 to $17,637|
ABC Montessori (est. 1995)
ABC Montessori is one of Mississauga's premier private schools. The school offers both montessori and traditional school programs from preschool to Grade 5. [View profile]
Académie Vaudrin Academy (est. 2005)
This alternative and traditional private school in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec offers grades PS to 6 with a tuition cost of $3,600 to $7,900. [View profile]
Aurora Montessori School (est. 1989)
Aurora Montessori School offers toddler to grade 8 with enrollment of 400 day students. Average class size is 18 to 24 with tuition from $9,510. to $15,000. [View profile]
Avalon Children's Montessori School (est. 2000)
Avalon provides quality programmes from kindergarten to Grade 8 in the heart of the Beach. [View profile]
|Moderately orthodox||$6,400 to $14,750|
Anchored in the community for over 20 years, É.M.i.M`s mission is to awaken each child`s potential. É.M.i.M is a trilingual Montessori environment and we encourage a child's eagerness to discover. [View profile]
Bannockburn (est. 1993)
Bannockburn, a Montessori school in Toronto, Ontario offers grades nursery to six, average class sizes of 22 students and tuition from $10,350 to $20,700. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$12,350 to $23,700|
Beyond Montessori School (est. 2008)
Located downtown St. Catharines, BMS offers bilingual Montessori programs - Toddler to Grade 8 with class sizes of 5 to 15 students. Tuition from $4,000 to $8,500. Extended Care. Financial-aid for the Elementary Years. [View profile]
Bishop Hamilton Montessori School (est. 1983)
Bishop Hamilton Montessori School is a Christian Montessori school in Ottawa, Ontario, with classes from nursery to grade eight. Tuition starts at $8,870. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$8,870 to $15,120|
Blaisdale Montessori School - Ajax (est. 1969)
Blaisdale Montessori School in Ajax runs from toddlers to grade eight. Tuition starts at $4,550. It features two rubberized play areas for younger children. [View profile]
Blaisdale Montessori School - Bowmanville (est. 1969)
Blaisdale Montessori School in Bowmanville, Ontario is an English speaking school offering nursery to grade 3 programs. Tuition costs $4,550 to $8,650 and students are required to wear uniforms. [View profile]
Blaisdale Montessori School - Oshawa (est. 1969)
Blaisdale Montessori School in Oshawa-Whitby offers nursery to grade eight in a small, newer school, with tuition ranging from $4,550 to $8,650. [View profile]
Blaisdale Montessori School - Pickering (est. 1969)
Blaisdale Montessori School in Pickering offers nursery to grade eight. Tuition starts at $4,550. Curriculum includes a strong arts focus. [View profile]
Blaisdale Montessori School - Scarborough (est. 1969)
Blaisdale Montessori School in Scarborough offers nursery to grade three, with 120 students enrolled. Tuition ranges from $4,550 to $8,650. [View profile]
Braemar House School (est. 1996)
Braemar House School is a not-for-profit elementary school that proves each day that children thrive in a nurturing environment that offers personalized attention. Class cap size is 16. [View profile]
Central Montessori Schools - Sheppard Campus (est. 1995)
The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one - the period from birth to the age of six. Choose Central Montessori Schools. [View profile]
Cornerstone Montessori Prep School (est. 1990)
Cornerstone Montessori Prep School is a Toronto Christian Montessori school with grades from nursery to 12. Tuition begins at $13,500. [View profile]
Country Garden Montessori Academy (est. 1995)
Situated on seven acres of rolling parkland and gardens, Country Garden Montessori Academy in Newmarket is a co-ed private day school for students in grades PS-12. The school provides a family atmosphere and is committed the intellectual growth and emotional well-being of students. [View profile]
Dearcroft Montessori School (est. 1968)
Offering Montessori programs from Preschool to Grade 8, Dearcroft is accredited by CCMA and staffed by great teachers. Tuition starts at $5,900. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$7,750 to $19,200|
High fidelity CCMA Montessori. Canada's only land based Montessori Adolescent program. [View profile]
Fairview Glen Montessori (est. 2007)
Fairview Glen offers authentic Montessori education for children 18 mo.-12 yrs. The academically driven, collaborative and supportive community, also specializes in French, Music, Visual Arts and Phys-Ed programs. [View profile]
Guiding Light Academy (est. 2007)
Guiding Light Academy is a Catholic private elementary school in Streetsville, Mississauga. We offer an enriched curriculum for JK, SK and Grades 1 to 8. We are located just minutes away from the Streetsville Go Station. [View profile]
Hatch House Montessori School (est. 2005)
The Hatch House Montessori School is a very child centered school where each student is respected for his/her uniqueness and is taught accordingly. Ask about our unique, fully bilingual elementary program. [View profile]
High Park Gardens Montessori School is an authentic quality Montessori program for children ages 12 months to 12 years. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$11,800 to $17,300|
Home Sweet Home Montessori Academy offers our students an environment with an array of programming which supports them in discovering their passion within! [View profile]
Humberside Montessori School (est. 1987)
Humberside Montessori Schools a montessori private school in Toronto. It offers programs from nursery to grade eight. [View profile]
La Villa Montessori School is a private day school in Mississauga, Ontario dedicated to following the Montessori philosophy. The school's mission is to create a safe, stimulating and nurturing environment that fulfills a child's emotional, social, physical and intellectual needs. [View profile]
Maria Montessori School (est. 1975)
Maria Montessori School is an AMI accredited Montessori school in Toronto that offers programs for children 18 months to twelve years. [View profile]
Meadow Green Academy (est. 1995)
Meadow Green Academy offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Mississauga. Its average class size is 12 students. [View profile]
Monkey See Monkey Do Montessori (est. 2007)
We have offered high quality programs for children ages 2.5-6 since 2007 in Vancouver, B.C. Our students graduate with a solid academic foundation, good problem solving skills, pro-social behaviour and a love of school. [View profile]
|$4,500 to $7,500|
The Montessori Country School - Milton Campus (est. 2007)
Montessori Country School has provided a first-class academic experience to students in an environment that is distinguished by its compassion, integrity and unwavering commitment to the individual child. [View profile]
The Montessori Country School - Nobleton Campus (est. 1988)
For over 25 years, the Montessori Country School provides a first-class accredited curriculum for students 12 months through grade 6. The sprawling 10 acre campus offers a unique indoor and outdoor learning experience. [View profile]
|Non-orthodox||$16,550 to $17,465|
Montessori For Children (est. 1995)
Curriculum designed for kids aged 2 1/2 to 6 covers Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math and French. Located near Yonge /St Clair subway station. Please call or email to book a tour. [View profile]
Montessori House of Children (est. 1974)
Located in Brantford, Ontario, Montessori House of Children (MHC) provides excellent programs for grades Nursery to 3 and helps young children reach their learning potential with both independent and self-directed learning. MHC also offers support for students with learning differences. [View profile]
Montessori Learning Centre of Pickering (est. 1984)
Montessori Learning Centre of Pickering is a non denominational school that offers programs from Pre-school to Grade eight. We acknowledge and celebrate religious and cultural events as part of our cultural program. [View profile]
Montessori School of Wellington (est. 1996)
Montessori School of Wellington is a faith-based school in Guelph. It offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade one. [View profile]
Northstar Montessori Private School (est. 1996)
Northstar Montessori Private School offers programs from pre-kindergarten to grade eight in Mississauga. Its average class size is 15 to 25 students. [View profile]
|Non-orthodox||$8,500 to $13,300|
Odyssey Montessori School (est. 2006)
Odyssey Montessori School is a private Montessori day school with two campuses. The Toronto campus provides programming for students 2.5 - 6 years old and programs for students 18 months to 6 years old is provided at the Christie Campus. [View profile]
Prince Edward Montessori School (est. 1995)
Prince Edward Montessori School offers programs for various grades in Toronto. Its average class size is ten to 16 students. [View profile]
River Valley School (est. 1983)
RVS offers programs for the Early Learning & Elementary years in Progressive, Montessori & Arrowsmith environments. Specialists teach fine arts, physical education and French language. [View profile]
|Moderately orthodox||$7,400 to $13,100|
Roots and Wings Montessori School (est. 1985)
We aim to create a community to enable children to honour and respect their innate goodness, their joy in learning and their responsibility as caring global citizens and stewards of the earth. [View profile]
|Moderately orthodox||$4,830 to $12,000|
Rotherglen School - Mississauga (est. 1979)
Rotherglen School - MISSISSAUGA is a montessori school that offers programs from pre-school to grade eight. Its average class size is 18 students. [View profile]
Rotherglen School - Oakville (est. 1979)
Rotherglen School - OAKVILLE offers programs from pre-school to grade eight. Its average class size is 18 students. [View profile]
Shepherd Montessori Private Catholic School (est. 2000)
Shepherd Montessori Private Catholic School offers programs for various grades in Mississauga. Its average class size is ten to 15 students. [View profile]
|Non-orthodox||$6,500 to $11,000|
Star Academy (est. 1997)
Star Academy offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade eight in Mississauga. Its average class size is ten students. [View profile]
|Moderately non-orthodox||$12,500 to $16,200|
Taddle Creek Montessori provides an authentic Montessori education for children ages 2.5 to 12 years old in the Annex. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$11,800 to $17,300|
The Mildenhall School (est. 1967)
The Mildenhall School provides an authentic Montessori education for children ages 2.5 to 14 years old in south Etobicoke. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$11,800 to $19,500|
Trillium School (est. 1991)
Trillium School is a montessori school that offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Markham. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$9,400 to $33,000|
Unionville Montessori Private Schools (est. 1987)
Unionville Montessori School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight. Its average class size is 18 to 22 students. [View profile]
|$7,250 to $13,150|
Wheatley School (est. 1986)
Wheatley School offers programs from nursery to grade eight in St. Catharines. Its average class size is 15 students. [View profile]
Wishing Well Schools (est. 1978)
Wishing Well Schools offers enriched programs from 18 months to Grade 8 in Markham. Montessori program from 18 months to 6 years old, advanced academic program from Grade 1 to 8. [View profile]
|Orthodox||$12,370 to $12,620|
These schools have a Montessori preschool program, along with more conventional programming starting at grade 1. Montessori preschools give young learners plenty of freedom to choose tasks and activities that interest them. They also strongly emphasize concrete learning, where children work with lots of hands-on material, and do practical life activities.
Bond Academy (est. 1978)
This traditional private school in Toronto offers preschool to grade 12 with average class sizes of 15 students. Facilities include a double gym and more. [View profile]
Caribbean International Academy -St. Maarten (est. 2003)
Caribbean International Academy provides a world class private Ontario education in the most idyllic of places: The island of St. Maarten. CIA fosters an optimal learning environment for all students. [View profile]
|$9,130 to $32,645|
J. Addison School (est. 2002)
Since 2002, J. Addison has provided a stimulating education for students. Located at the corner of Woodbine and Valleywood Drive in Markham, ON, Canada, you will find our state-of-the-art 58,000 sq. ft. facility. [View profile]
|$8,888 to $36,300|
Montessori Alberta is a Montessori pre-school/kindergarten for 3 to 6 year old children located in a bright and spacious facility with easy access to downtown Calgary. [View profile]
|$3,250 to $4,500|
Town Centre Montessori Private Schools (est. 1986)
Town Centre Montessori Private Schools offers programs from pre-school to grade 12/University Prep and is located in Markham. [View profile]
Yip’s Music & Montessori School (est. 1990)
Founded in 1990, Yip's Montessori Program cater to children from 1.5 to 6 years old. Yip's four campuses are located in Markham, Unionville and Thornhill. [View profile]
|$6,600 to $10,900|
York Montessori School (est. 2007)
York Montessori School in Richmond Hill offers children from 16 months to 6 years old a wholesome Montessori education. Teacher to student ratios of 1:5 - 1:8. [View profile]
|$11,150 to $11,750|
Montessori education provides a unique alternative to what’s offered in conventional schools. Its progressive classroom policies and curriculum, introduced by Maria Montessori, are used in thousands of schools worldwide.
Montessori schools are child-centred. They don’t have a pre-planned or one-size-fits-all curriculum. Instead, children’s studies radiate from their core interests into all curricular areas.
Teachers capitalize on the way children naturally learn. Children learn in developmentally appropriate ways, and build confidence and self-esteem in doing so.
Learning is decentralized. Teachers rarely lecture, and children do lots of self-directed work, mostly at their own pace. Children often do work that interests and stimulates them, either on their own or in small groups.
There’s plenty of concrete learning. Children work with a wide range of hands-on material to learn key skills. At the higher levels, though, there tends to be more abstract learning.
Classroom policies vary between Montessori schools. Classic schools tend to have high teacher-to-student ratios, large classes, few lectures, and few specialist classes. Supplemented schools are less strict about these things.
Montessori education is challenging, and promotes independence, focus, and discipline. Its tailored learning approach is ideal for many students, including those who are motivated, strong on academics, and like to choose some of their own work. It may not be the right fit, though, for students who prefer a conventional approach.
Changes in education tend to reflect their time. They often emerge out of a unique social context. For instance, when Maria Montessori was growing up, school was harsh. Classrooms, sadly, were like factories. Students were force-fed knowledge, treated the exact same way, and were doled out cruel punishments.
Montessori introduced an appealing alternative to the oppressive education of her time. She took the factory model and turned it on its head.
Montessori insisted we should support rather than punish, encourage curiosity rather than memorization, and ask for ideas rather than provide answers. She also emphasized problem solving over rote learning, effort over outcomes, independence over authority, concrete learning over abstract learning, and choosing rewarding tasks over trying to please others.
While Montessori schools vary in their details, they all share a commitment to what inspired Maria Montessori. They aim to meet the growing needs of children.
“Some schools aren’t Montessori schools, but use a Montessori approach for their preschool, kindergarten, or daycare program.”
On the Montessori philosophy, children aren’t just little adults. They are children, and deserve to be respected in their own way and for who they are. This means, among other things, that they should be given an opportunity to learn in developmentally appropriate ways, and build confidence in doing so.
Maria Montessori did tonnes of research on children. This sparked several insights about the way they learn. And in time, it led her to the conclusion that children should be placed at the centre of education.
Montessori didn’t just pay lip service to the child-centred philosophy. She had specific ideas—for instance, about freedom, structure, and work—which she used to implement it in her original Casa dei Bambini (children’s home) in Rome.
Now, not all of these ideas were new. Steiner (the founder of Waldorf education) and Froebel, like Montessori, also raised concerns with the factory model of education, and offered new models.
Montessori built on these models and offered her own substantial contribution. She offered nothing short of a blueprint for a child-centred approach to education. This approach is currently offered in thousands of schools worldwide. This includes some schools that don’t call themselves “Montessori.”
Still, it’s hard for us to appreciate just how influential Montessori’s method was. The education we enjoy today is far more nurturing than what Montessori, Steiner, and company were used to. What distinguishes her method is that she designed a caring learning environment in which children were placed at the centre. This method was in complete opposition to the dominant thinking, and the stark reality, of her times.
Montessori versus conventional education
The Montessori philosophy of education is innovative. Its progressive approach is an appealing alternative to the factory model of education dominant in the early 20th century.
It’s also an interesting alternative to the approach followed by most schools today. In fact, Montessori education, in many ways, is contrary to the approach currently used in conventional or mainstream schools.
Students, in Montessori schools, work in a decentralized learning environment, usually by themselves or in small groups with peers of different ages. They often collaborate, with each other and their teachers. Since a one-size-fits-all curriculum isn’t in effect, they have quite a bit of freedom to choose their own projects and work at their own pace.
Today’s conventional schools, on the other hand, tend to be teacher-focused. Teachers deliver lectures to the whole class. These are intended to impart knowledge to students. Students are expected to demonstrate they’ve acquired this knowledge through teacher-administered tests and assignments. With a preset, age-specific curriculum, students have much less opportunity to explore their interests and passions.
All in all, there are many differences between Montessori schools and the conventional schools of today. Below, we outline some of the main ones. We’ll discuss many of these differences in greater detail throughout this guide.
|Montessori schools||Conventional schools|
The Montessori philosophy informs its method and classroom policies. That said, schools can vary in their classroom policies and the way they implement them.
In this section, we discuss Montessori classroom policies. These include common and less common ones.
Common Montessori classroom policies
Below, we outline classroom policies that are commonly found in Montessori schools. We also state the rationale for each policy. Remember, though, not all Montessori schools follow these policies, and there’s a lot of variation in how they’re implemented.
Schools have mixed-age classrooms, often with 3-year age groupings. There are toddler classes from birth to age 3, primary (or casa) classes for ages 3-6, and elementary classes for ages 6-9 and 9-12. At some elementary schools, all six years are combined into one class. Most middle and high schools have mixed-age classes as well. Parents are encouraged to keep their child in school for at least one full 3-year cycle.
Mixed-age classrooms promote lots of interaction, problem solving, and child-to-child teaching. Children can work with and learn from older peers, who teach, mentor and model behaviour to them, often better than adults do. Older children also reinforce their own knowledge this way. In this setting, children are often stimulated and rarely bored.
Students can roam around class, work on their own tasks, join groups, and work with peers. Teachers rarely provide whole-class lectures. Instead, they observe, guide, and sometimes give brief lessons to small groups of students.
This creates a dynamic learning environment. Students often work well alone and in groups. Freed from teacher interference, they tend to learn skills and concepts more easily. They also become more independent and confident.
Students have a lot of leeway to choose tasks and learning materials. While structure is provided, students can often choose tasks they’re interested in and likely to complete.
When given freedom, students tend to choose work that’s developmentally appropriate and helps them grow. They also often choose tasks that interest and challenge them. This promotes enthusiasm and a love of learning.
Angeline Stoll Lillard, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, is a renowned expert on Montessori education and childhood learning. In Montessori: The Science behind the Genius (2005), she describes how self-directed learning feeds children’s natural curiosity:
Focus on the concrete
Students work with a lot of concrete learning material. This includes puzzles called manipulatives, which are self-correcting. They also work with blocks, tiles, pink towers, sandpaper letters, golden beads, and other material.
Concrete learning has a lot of benefits. They include the following:
This last point is crucial. The more of our senses that are involved in learning, the more our cognition is “embodied.” And research shows that embodied cognition has much to recommend it. For instance, it improves children’s focus and engagement. It also can lead to faster and more efficient learning.
“When given freedom, students tend to choose work that’s developmentally appropriate and helps them grow. They also often choose tasks that interest and challenge them.”
Minimal pretend play
Pretend play is rarely encouraged. Work is emphasized over pretend play. Even in preschool, classrooms don’t have dolls, dollhouses, pretend kitchens or houses, dress-up clothes, or other common playthings. Rather, they have real kitchens, real (child-sized) furniture, work tools, food, cooking utensils, and other practical objects. Below, we provide an extensive list of standard classroom materials.
The focus on work over play is based on several key claims about children.
There’s nothing wrong with pretend play, according to Isabelle Kunicki-Carter, director of Foster Hill Montessori School, in Toronto, Ontario. The mistake, rather, is to force-feed it. “Imposing fantasy on children is unhealthy. They should come to it themselves. What’s most important is that children choose their own learning paths.”
Subjects are rarely taught on their own. Interdisciplinary learning is a big focus. Even subjects such as science and math are often integrated into other parts of the curriculum. For instance, students may be given what schools refer to as a great lesson on the start of human communication. Here, they’ll learn about science, but also about history, language, and other subjects.
There are widely known benefits to this approach. Most importantly, it allows students to connect concepts from many different disciplines, and view them in a wider context. This often makes learning more engaging. And for many, learning the wider applications of a subject is exciting and instills a passion to learn more.
Uninterrupted work time
Students are usually given at least one full uninterrupted work period of three hours a day. Some schools have two of these work periods. These periods exclude outside play, group storytime, circle time, music, or anything that takes time away from a chosen task.
Uninterrupted work time allows students to choose and complete their chosen work, either on their own or with peers. If they’re interrupted when they’re learning something of special interest to them, it can be hard to regain focus and interest. Uninterrupted work time thus nurtures focus, concentration, and a love of learning. These traits are crucial to future success, in school and beyond.
Elizabeth Hainstock, a renowned Montessori researcher, agrees. She argues, in The Essential Montessori (1997), that every child has a strong desire to see tasks through.
While academics are important, this is only part of the focus. Schools aim to educate the whole child: their character, sense of self, and values.
For instance, students are taught to take care of themselves, each other, and their environment. They do this through tasks such as cooking, cleaning, building, and gardening. They’re also taught to move with grace, be polite, be helpful, and do work in the community, among other things.
Students thereby grow in key ways, including the following:
Rachel Meltzer, whose son Kalil attended the preschool program at Taddle Creek Montessori, in Toronto, Ontario, raves about the program’s focus on the whole child. “I love how they emphasize much more than academics, things like character, self-sufficiency, collaboration, and knowledge and skills. The holistic approach is great. Kalil learned a lot more than his letters and numbers.”
Minimal external rewards
Tests or assignments are almost never given, at least in primary and elementary school. Sometimes they’re given in middle school, but mostly for practice. Usually, though, they’re not graded.
In high school, tests and assignments are given and graded. But this is mainly done to meet provincial curricular requirements in Canada and prepare students for university. Other than that, grades are not given out.
Also, students are rarely praised. And when they are, it’s for effort—not outcomes.
Rewards are rarely given, since they can impede learning and motivation. Instead, students are encouraged to find motivation from within. By choosing their own tasks, learning becomes its own reward. This can inspire a love of learning, sometimes a lifelong one.
Recent research seems to show some of the costs of the reward systems used in many mainstream schools. In “The Risks of Rewards” (1994), Alfie Kohn discusses some of these costs.
Focusing on reward systems in general, he adds
Homework is almost never assigned, even in middle or high school. It’s usually not encouraged either. Some teachers allow students to take work home, if it needs to get done. But when work is taken home, and whether it’s taken home, is normally the student’s call.
This policy has several benefits. And, it’s supported by some potent claims.
Very little, if any, modern-day technology is used. This is especially true in the early years. Computers, tablets, whiteboards, TVs, and similar devices are rarely used in class. And when they are, it’s typically for a specific purpose, such as a research project.
It’s believed that too much screen time can interfere with focus and development. For instance, it can lead to shorter attention spans and impede concentration. It can also limit interaction between peers and stunt social development. Overall, too much screen time can prevent a child from becoming what Maria Montessori called normalized: independent, disciplined, focused, and mature.
Less common Montessori classroom policies
Below, we discuss some classroom policies used less commonly in Montessori schools. While some schools use them, others don’t (or they may be less strict about them). We also discuss the rationale for these policies.
High teacher-to-student ratio
Some schools have a high teacher-to-student ratio, at least at the upper levels. For instance, there may be 1 teacher to 25 or 30 students in middle or high school (or even elementary school).
Anne E. Laws, coordinator of the Montessori Assurance Program in Canada, considers high teacher-to-student ratios a crucial feature of the Montessori program. According to Laws, this prevents teachers from needlessly interfering with students’ work. It can thus promote focus and engagement. It can also enhance learning.
Minimal arts and crafts projects
Some schools have little, if any, time allotted to arts and crafts. And, they may have no arts and crafts projects. Even in schools with no assigned arts and crafts projects, though, students normally have the option of working on art or creative projects.
Art projects, it’s claimed, can limit self-direction. Like other assigned work, they interfere with students’ freedom to choose their own work and complete it. Also, students should spend a lot of time on practical work. But some artwork, the claim runs, doesn’t seem practical.
“The Montessori classroom reflects its unusual philosophy, and provides the basis for its classroom policies.”
Minimal unstructured activity
Some schools have little, if any, unstructured time. For instance, they may have minimal or no scheduled recess or time for “free explore.” Even some (though not many) preschools and elementary schools limit free-play time in this way.
This policy is supported by a few key claims about free-play periods:
According to Lillard (2005), Maria Montessori believed scheduled recess should not be part of the school day. Montessori’s main rationale is that it interferes with concentration.
Few specialist classes
Some schools have few, if any, specialist classes, such as art, music, gym, or foreign languages. All or most of these classes, in these schools, will be taught by the core teacher, rather than a specialist. Also, some schools may not have a designated period for some of these classes.
The core teacher, it’s reasoned, knows students the best, and is thus best able to teach all or most subjects. And in general, content should be delivered more through material and short lessons than through direct instruction (for instance, by a specialist teacher).
Lillard (2005) stresses the second point:
Minimal commercial materials
Some schools have few, if any, commercial materials. For instance, they may have no toys, board games, jigsaw puzzles, or other material often found in mainstream schools.
The reasoning is that this material is conducive to play, not learning. Moreover, using it can detract from students’ focus on work, even when it’s used during free time.
Summary of classroom policies and rationales
The following table lists each Montessori classroom policy, and briefly summarizes its main rationale(s). The policies are divided into “common” and “less common.”
Less common policies:
Less common policies:
Montessori schools share a common approach. They also share a number of core classroom policies and practices. These are based on a unified philosophy and justified by potent claims.
On the other hand, there’s some variation between Montessori schools in terms of focus. While most Montessori schools agree on philosophy, they sometimes disagree on how to implement or interpret this philosophy. Often, the difference is not one of basic principles, but of how to implement these principles in class.
Classic and supplemented schools
Different schools have different interpretations of the Montessori philosophy. And they implement it in different ways. This means there are different types of Montessori schools.
Some theorists divide Montessori schools into two main groups: classic and supplemented. For instance, Lillard (Preschool children’s development, 2012), adopts this useful classification:
Classic schools stick to the original Montessori program, and rarely make changes. According to Chertoff (The Great Montessori Schism, 2012), they tout
Supplemented Montessori schools, meanwhile, have a different approach. While they’re faithful to Montessori principles, they supplement them with more modern curricular approaches and materials. For instance, they might have lower teacher-to-student ratios and more specialist classes than classic schools.
The main rationale for this approach is that schools must evolve to meet the needs of children. As our understanding of science, society, the environment, psychology, and other important areas of study evolves, so does our understanding of children’s needs. Our teaching practices, it’s urged, must in turn adapt.
In fact, according to some theorists, support for the supplemented approach can be garnered from Maria Montessori’s work. Montessori’s research, writings, and observations, it’s claimed, support supplementing her teaching methods, in some cases.
Given their different outlooks, it’s not surprising that classic schools often have different classroom policies than supplemented schools. Below, we outline some of the possible differences.
“Montessori” isn’t a trademarked term. This means any school can call itself “Montessori,” even if it doesn’t follow any Montessori principles.
As a parent, you should ensure that any prospective school follows Montessori principles. You should also look closely at its policies, to get a sense of its approach and decide whether it’s the right fit for your child.
|Classic Montessori schools||Supplemented Montessori schools|
The scale from classic to supplemented
Of course, almost no school falls neatly into either of these categories. Few schools are strictly classic or supplemented. Most have both classic and supplemented classroom policies, as well as some policies that fall somewhere in the middle. And naturally, each school will have its own unique culture, character, and feel.
In truth, then, the distinction between classic and supplemented schools (not to mention the above table) is simplistic. Most Montessori schools are really on a scale from classic to supplemented. Where they fall on the scale will be based on how they interpret the Montessori philosophy, and how this is reflected in their classroom policies.
Moreover, the policies are themselves on a scale from classic to supplemented. For each policy, there are a wide range of ways it can be implemented, on this scale. For instance, a school might have three-year age groupings in all its classes (classic), most of its classes (moderately classic), a few of its classes (moderately supplemented), or none of its classes (supplemented).
It can be helpful to see where a school’s policies fall on this scale. This can give you some much-needed perspective when considering different Montessori schools.
In the end, though, what’s most important is to focus on a school’s policies themselves, rather than where they rank on the scale from classic to supplemented. For any school, you should take a close look at its classroom policies (among other things), and gauge whether they’re a good fit for your child.
Montessori has a unique philosophy. It also has progressive classroom policies that contrast with those of conventional schools.
The Montessori classroom reflects its unusual philosophy, and provides the basis for its classroom policies. Below, we look at three features of this classroom: the classroom setup, learning materials, and role of the teacher.
Further down the page, we outline some benefits of Montessori education, and provide a table looking at what types of students might be suitable for it. Even further down, we offer advice on choosing a specific school, including questions to ask yourself about your child. Near the end, we provide tools for comparing Montessori schools in terms of their academics, tuition, and financial aid.
The Montessori classroom has an unusual setup. Unlike most schools, no desk is at the front. And, the teacher is often found in some part of the room with a small group of children, discussing their work or giving a lesson.
Classrooms are usually large, open spaces, with low shelves, different sizes of tables that seat one to four children, and child-sized chairs. They have different areas, divided by low shelving. Each area has learning material for subjects such as language, music, science, math, and culture. Material is also grouped by area of interest and in order of increasing difficulty.
The Montessori classroom is often quiet, even at the lower levels. For instance, in an elementary class at Forest Hill Montessori, in Toronto, Ontario, students could be seen working calmly. They were also well behaved, had good manners, and had a strong rapport with the teacher and each other.
Since the students weren’t assigned seats or desks, they moved freely about. Most of them worked at tables, but some worked on the floor on small rugs. Some students worked alone, but many worked in groups—asking and answering questions, observing, and helping each other. So, while the class was calm and orderly, it was also lively and dynamic.
Classrooms, in most schools, are quite neat. Extra materials are kept out of sight in a closet and brought in and out of class, based on students’ needs and interests. Each material has its place on the shelves, and students must return them when they’re done. There’s no limit, though, to how long they can work with any material.
Below, you can view a Montessori classroom in action. You’ll also get the inside scoop from a Montessori teacher and administrator.
Video: Inside Montessori schools
Most Montessori schools don’t have textbooks, assignments, or tests. They do have many other learning materials, though. The norm is one of each material, with students expected to wait their turn. (This is thought to promote patience and respect.)
Elizabeth Hainstock, in The Essential Montessori (1997), divides Montessori learning materials into four main groups. Keep in mind, not every school has all or even most of these materials. And, some are used only at certain levels.
|Motor education||Sensory education||Language||Math|
Some schools have other material as well. You’re more likely to find the following material in elementary and secondary schools. You may also find it in more supplemented Montessori schools.
|Community material||Modern-day technology||Science and culture|
In class, the teacher’s main role is to connect students with the right tasks, so students can pursue their own learning. They also prepare the classroom to provide structure for students and protect their freedom.
Teachers guide and direct learning. While aware of all the students, they move around the class, giving lessons to individuals or small groups. They also allow students time to repeat and practice work. And, they help plan work for students.
Teachers don’t give many lectures, at least to the whole class. Nor do they try to impart knowledge to students. Thus the term “guide” is used in some schools instead of “teacher,” to highlight students’ role in their own learning.
“In class, the teacher’s main role is to connect students with the right tasks, so students can pursue their own learning.”
Unnecessary help is thought to hinder growth. Helping a student with something they can do on their own leads to too much reliance on adults. When students seek help from peers, on the other hand, this can spark insight and lead to excitement.
Pat Payne, mother of Jasmine (age 10) at River Valley school in Calgary, Alberta, sees the value of the Montessori teaching method:
Yet, she sees the teacher’s role as pivotal:
In most Montessori classes, teachers don’t give students tests or assignments. Nor do they grade work, except in high school (and sometimes middle school). Instead, they guide and monitor the progress of students.
Each student’s progress is tracked by following them for around three years. Teachers gauge progress by the handling of materials, accuracy of written work, ability to transfer concepts to new situations, and in other ways.
Sometimes teachers have a non-teaching assistant. The role of the assistant is to observe the class and assist students who need help. Assistants are meant to support teachers and allow them to give lessons and engage students in tasks.
In the past, the teaching ratio in many classes was 1 trained Montessori teacher (and perhaps 1 non-teaching assistant) to 25 or more students. Due to government regulations in Canada, the teacher-to-student ratio has been lowered in Montessori preschool (toddler rooms and primary school). In toddler rooms (ages 0 to 3), there must be 1 teacher for every 5 students. In primary school (ages 3 to 6), there must be 1 teacher for every 8 students.
Teacher-to-student ratios for elementary, middle, and high schools (unlike preschools) aren’t mandated. In these schools, the teacher-to-student ratio tends to be higher, such as 25 or 20 to 1, for each class.
Like its classroom policies and learning environment, the Montessori curriculum is unique. For most subjects, the focus is on concrete and experiential learning. Below, we outline the Montessori teaching method for math, science, reading, writing, and language.
Keep in mind, though, Montessori curricular approaches vary between different levels. To learn how the Montessori approach evolves through the years, read our guide to Montessori curriculum.
Math learning is very concrete and hands-on. There’s little direct instruction in math. Instead, teachers guide and counsel. This is similar to the discovery approach to math instruction, and unlike the traditional approach.
Students work with many concrete materials to learn skills and concepts. They use self-correcting manipulatives, which allow them to find and correct their own mistakes. They also use sandpaper numbers, number rods, spindle boxes, golden bead material, bead frames, fraction insets, and sequin boards.
Montessori math starts with concrete learning. For instance, in arithmetic, students learn the names of the numbers by identifying numerals and objects. They then move on to more abstract and complex concepts.
The content for math is divided into categories that allow students to grasp increasingly challenging concepts. And usually, brief lessons cover these categories in a special order. But most work is done independently or in groups. And the pace of study varies between students.
Science learning, similar to math, is experiential. It’s very concrete and hands-on, with little direct instruction. This is similar to the inquiry approach to science instruction, and unlike the expository approach.
Students are rarely taught scientific subjects on their own. Instead, there’s an interdisciplinary focus: students learn several subjects (scientific and non-scientific) at once. For instance, they might be given a great lesson about the beginning of the world, where they’ll learn about science, history, and theology.
Students are free to explore in and out of the classroom. They learn about the world through problem-solving and trial and error.
In secondary schools, some science lectures are given. There also might be some textbook learning at this level. This is especially true in high school, where provincial curricular requirements must be met.
Teachers take advantage of the sensitive period for reading—between the ages of three and five—during which children are more able to learn how to read. Children first learn to read (and write) through concrete material and sensory activities. For instance, they learn to trace sandpaper letters, and how to hold a pencil and control its use. This allows them to develop fine motor skills, and learn through many of their senses.
When children have learned some letters, they use what’s called a “movable alphabet.” These cardboard or wooden letters allow children to construct words, phrases, and sentences.
This sets the stage for phonics: sounding out letters and joining them together to form words. Children begin to distinguish sounds, and phonetically read words, phrases, and sentences.
As part of the whole language approach, children are then given reading cards. These allow them to practice matching words with objects and pictures. There’s also a lot of focus on comprehension. Children are given special material to learn the meanings of words and sentences and the basics of grammar.
After they’ve learned the basics, children are given books to read (usually non-fiction books). Often, many illustrated books about the real world are provided. Most schools also provide plenty of reading activities related to special topics of interest.
Children learn to write before reading. They start writing between the ages of three and four. During this sensitive period, they’re thought to be attracted to the order of writing, and can easily learn this skill.
Writing, like reading and math, isn’t taught by direct instruction. The focus is on practising writing and doing engaging exercises. This resembles the process approach to writing instruction, and is unlike the systematic approach.
Children first work with moveable alphabets. They then learn how to hold a pencil, practice different strokes, and learn about pencil pressure. This improves their fine-motor skills and builds up their finger and hand muscles.
Special writing exercises are also given. These allow children to realize writing is not just “making marks.” This also helps them improve their handwriting. They then learn to write creatively, and express themselves in unique ways.
There are several aspects of language. These include spoken and written language, reading, and spelling. These skills are taught together.
The Montessori classroom is designed to promote language skills. Language use is encouraged in the classroom, partly by giving students plenty of freedom to speak with their peers. Students also speak with teachers a lot. Oral language skills are refined through songs, games, poems, and stories.
In the language area of the classroom, vocabulary is enriched in many ways. Precise names are used for all objects. Object classification and matching exercises are also used to improve comprehension and vocabulary.
Students mostly move at their own pace in learning to speak, read, and write. There’s no strict time frame for developing these skills, unlike in many mainstream schools. Teachers do, though, take advantage of the sensitive periods for learning these skills.
Sensitive periods refer to periods of time where children’s developmental needs are pressing. Paula Polk Lillard (1972) describes them as “blocks of time in a child’s life when he is absorbed with one characteristic of his environment to the exclusion of all others.”
Examples of sensitive periods are the development of walking, talking, and the interest in detailed objects and people (Lillard, 1972). Teachers use these periods to cultivate core skills, such as reading, writing, and math.
We’ve looked at different types of Montessori schools and their classroom policies. We’ve also looked at the Montessori curriculum and teaching methods. And, we’ve discussed many of the benefits of this approach.
Below, we go into the benefits of Montessori education in far more detail. In particular, we describe many, though not all, of the academic and social benefits it can have for your child.
To learn about the research behind some of these claims, read our Montessori benefits guide.
Montessori education has a lot of benefits for students of different ages and learning styles. Yet, like other approaches, it’s encountered criticism. As far back as the early 20th century, the American philosopher and educator John Dewey, and his student William Heard Kilpatrick, denounced the Montessori approach. In fact, Kilpatrick went on a crusade against it, attacking it in a popular pamphlet.
More recently, Chattin-McNichols and Weiss (1998), and Lopata, Wallace, and Finn (2005) have critiqued Montessori education. While they don’t dismiss it outright, they raise a number of concerns with it.
Below, we look at some of the concerns raised by critics of Montessori education. We’ll also discuss potential responses to these concerns, as well as some controversial questions that call out for further study.
|Concern||Possible responses||Remaining questions|
There are plenty of reasons to pursue a Montessori education. And, many students are a great fit for it. But is Montessori for everyone? Maybe, but it’s worth looking more closely at this question.
Below, we outline which students may be suitable for Montessori education. Just keep in mind: there’s far more to deciding whether Montessori is right for your child than the points below. This table is meant to stimulate your thinking, not replace it. Also, note that your child might display traits from both columns.
|Montessori education may be suitable for students who:||Montessori education may not be suitable for students who:|
Bear in mind, this table doesn’t focus on specific schools. What’s most important is to look at the school itself, to see whether it’s the right fit for your child. Much further down, we provide advice for choosing a school.
Assuming Montessori is right your child, you’ll want to find a school that’s a good fit. In your search for the right school, it’s important to consult with teachers, educators, and (often) your child.
Start looking at schools early, as much as a year before applying. You can research them here on this site (starting with our list of schools), on individual school websites, at open houses, during on-site visits, at our annual school expos, and other venues.
You’ll need to reflect on several questions during this process.
Consider exactly what you’re looking for in a Montessori school, and why. Your focus should not just be on the school, but on the fit between the school and your child. It’s important, then, to be clear about your child’s personality, learning style, and academic abilities.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Then you need to put some thought into the following:
You want to have some idea of the kind of environment your child will thrive in academically, socially, physically, and emotionally. With this in mind, you can make the best decision for your child.
There are some standard questions to ask schools when investigating them.
Beyond those, there are also specific questions to ask Montessori schools. These include:
|Preschool (toddler and primary)||Elementary and secondary schools|
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To learn more about the Montessori preschool approach, read our guide to Montessori preschools and comparison of Montessori to other preschools and daycares. To learn about preschools in general, read our guide to preschool, kindergarten, and daycare. If you’re interested in Montessori primary and secondary schools, check out our guides to Montessori elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.
When it comes to choosing a Montessori school, you’ll want to look at its classroom policies. You’ll also want to consider its culture, philosophy, learning environment, and developmental aims, among other things.
There’s no such thing, though, as the best Montessori school. What’s important is the fit between the school and your child (and family). Yet, there are some things you should look for, in any Montessori school, to find the right fit. They include the following:
There is a formal application process for most Montessori schools. The application materials required will be similar to those required for any private school. These may include:
In some cases, though, they may also include:
The application process varies widely for different Montessori schools. Most schools, though, focus a lot on in- and out-of-class observations of your child (especially if they’re coming from a non-Montessori school). They aim to get a full picture of your child’s academic and social/emotional profile. This helps them decide whether they’re a good fit for your child.
The right outlook to have is that the school is working with you, not against you. For more general advice on applying to private schools, see our “getting in” guide. For more information on private schools in general, see our private school basics guide.
The quality of any Montessori program is closely linked to the quality of the teachers running it. Teachers with proper training and strong abilities can often provide the right learning environment for your child. On the other hand, teachers without this expertise often can’t.
It’s important, then, to inquire about the training and credentials of teachers. You should ask school officials whether teachers have specialized Montessori training, as well as what other training and education they might have. You should also ask whether teachers are offered any form of ongoing professional development, such as classes, workshops, or seminars in Montessori education.
When choosing a Montessori school, cost can be a factor. You want to find a school that’s a good fit for your child. But you also need a school that’s at a price you can afford.
Private Montessori schools tend to be reasonably priced. And, they’re typically on the lower side of private school tuition in general. They can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 per year.
Pricing will vary based on several different factors. For instance, the size, location, level of schooling, and resources can affect the cost of tuition. And of course, boarding schools will tend to be more expensive than regular day schools.
In general, though, there are plenty of affordable Montessori schools in Canada. And keep in mind, if a school provides you with childcare, this may be tax deductible. The amount that is deducted is based on the part of the day devoted to childcare, such as after school supervision.
Many Montessori schools, like other private schools, offer funding to families. The two main kinds of funding are needs-based and merit-based financial aid.
Needs-based: If you can demonstrate need, some schools will help finance your child’s education. They might offer you a bursary to help you cover tuition and possibly even room and board (if your child is in a boarding school).
Merit-based: Some schools also offer merit-based financial aid. Based on certain criteria, such as academics or athletics, your child may be offered a scholarship that helps pay for their schooling.
Scholarships are less common than bursaries. They also tend to provide less support. But every little bit helps. So, don’t be afraid to apply. On OurKids.net, we list scholarships offered by private schools in Canada.
Not all Montessori schools are accredited, but many are. And sometimes this can factor into your decision about which school is the right fit.
There are many accrediting centres for Montessori schools in Canada, the United States, and elsewhere. Below, we list of some of the main ones. Some of these centres align to some extent with a classic or supplementary approach.
Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators: The Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA) is a Canadian, not-for-profit centre. The CCMA “provides a unified voice in negotiations with government and other agencies.” It’s an accrediting centre and provides teacher training programs. The CCMA is the dominant accrediting centre in Canada. There are 91 CCMA-accredited Montessori schools in Canada, most of which are in Ontario.
Association Montessori Internationale: The Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) was established by Maria Montessori and her son, Mario, in 1929. Its main headquarters are in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. AMI schools often have a classic curriculum, with three-year age groupings, large classes, and high teacher-to-student ratios. They also often have few lectures and less free-play time. There are 11 AMI Montessori schools in Canada (8 in Ontario, 1 in Quebec, 1 in British Columbia, and 1 in Alberta).
American Montessori Society: In the late 1960s, Nancy McCormick Rambusch, an AMI Montessori trained teacher, founded the American Montessori Society (AMS). She believed the Montessori method had to be modified to adapt to the culture in North America. In AMS schools, the Montessori curriculum is supplemented with resources, materials, and ideas used in more mainstream schools. Examples include the use of specialist teachers and classes, arts and crafts projects, commercial games and puzzles, and computers. AMS only accredits schools in the United States.
Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education: The Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) is an internationally recognized, standards setting, and certifying body for Montessori teacher education. MACTE certifies teachers but not schools. It also provides teacher training.
International Montessori Council: The International Montessori Council (IMC) is a global community of Montessori schools, teacher education programs, school administrators, educators, trustees, parent leaders, and friends of the Montessori movement. Members of the IMC are dedicated to “enriching the lives of children and adults through Montessori education by promoting Maria Montessori’s insights to the general public.” The IMC is an accrediting institution. It doesn’t have a teacher training program, though.
As mentioned, teachers play a huge role in Montessori programs. They really impact their value. The quality of teachers can sometimes make the difference between an effective and an ineffective program. You should look closely, then, at the credentials of the teachers of any school you’re considering.
There are many Montessori teacher training centres. Some also accredit schools, including AMI and AMS.
Some Montessori training centres don’t accredit schools, though. The main one in North America is MACTE. In Canada, most teachers are trained by AMI or MACTE, though some are trained by AMS (which is affiliated with MACTE).
The main AMI training centres in Canada are the Foundations for Montessori education, in Toronto, Ontario, and the Montessori Training Centre of BC, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Both these training centres have strict standards of evaluation. These are sanctioned by a governing body: Montessori Quality Assurance (Assurance Qualité Montessori).
Different training centres use different approaches to train teachers. There are also different training courses for each level of education. Oral and written exams are required by most training centres.
The standard Montessori training is a full year of graduate work for each of the main three age-levels: 0-3, 3-6, and 6-12. There’s a wide range of teacher preparation, though.
Some teachers take intensive, year-long graduate courses. For instance, this is standard for AMI Montessori teachers.
“When it comes to choosing a Montessori school, you’ll want to look at its classroom policies. You’ll also want to consider its culture, philosophy, learning environment, and developmental aims, among other things.”
Sandra Girilato, director of training at Montessori Quality Assurance (MQA), sets the record straight. As she points out, MQA ensures that AMI-trained teachers are well prepared. “All AMI-trained teachers in Canada must take a full-time, 9-month training course which employs strict criteria of evaluation sanctioned by MQA.”
Of course, some teachers have less rigorous training. In fact, some have simply read some of Maria Montessori’s books and applied some of her ideas in a school setting.
Due to the variance in teacher training, the quality of Montessori teachers and schools also varies widely. It’s important, then, to inquire about the expertise of teachers. This can help you decide whether a school is the right fit for your child.
Elementary school teachers, in addition to regular training, should have a solid foundation in many different subjects. The goal isn’t for them to be experts in everything, but to be guides. As Paula Polk Lillard writes (Montessori Today, 1996), they should be “... a Renaissance person: knowledgeable enough to get, and keep, children interested in a given subject to help direct them to find the answers to their questions independently.”
Is a public Montessori school right for your child? Maybe, but there aren’t many in Canada.
There are a few such schools in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. They usually start in kindergarten or grade 1 and continue until at least grade 6. They also must be licensed by the Ministry of Education and meet provincial requirements. This means that they normally have two-year, instead of three-year, age groupings. It also means they tend to have smaller classes and more direct instruction than private Montessori schools.
Almost all Montessori schools in Canada are private. Unlike public schools, private schools don’t need to meet provincial curricular standards. They usually do meet them, though, and often surpass them.
Most private Montessori schools in Canada are accredited through the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators (CCMA), headed by Katherine Poyntz. The CCMA requires that these schools meet very strict criteria, related to curriculum and teaching. Here’s how the CCMA describes their accreditation role on their website:
If you can’t afford a private Montessori school (and there’s no public one in your area), teaching Montessori at home might be an option for you.
Affordable Montessori materials can be bought or made. And many Montessori activities and lessons are adaptable.
For more on this, see Elizabeth G. Hainstock’s Teaching Montessori in the Home: The School Years (1997). You can also attend local workshops to learn how to adapt the method to your child’s needs.
There is no cut-and-dry method for teaching Montessori in the home. But the American Montessori Society (AMS) suggests a few basic principles.
Create an ordered environment: Have a place for everything, on a child-friendly scale. Children should know where to find what they need, and where to put it when they’re done. This allows for better focus and fewer distractions.
Teach real-life skills: Take the time to teach your child to wash tables, organize shelves, prepare meals, and assist younger children. Tasks should be age appropriate.
Young children, for example, can peel vegetables, fold their clothes, match their socks, and care for pets. Older children can sort the mail and take out the recycling. And, adolescents can make dinner, read to their younger siblings, help with computer and home repair, and manage their own bank account.
Promote concentration: You can help develop your child’s concentration by observing what interests them. Set your child up with the means to explore their interests, and let them work without interruption.
While your child’s work should be free from distraction, it doesn’t have to be away from the family. Some children prefer working at the kitchen table or reading in a corner of the living room to working alone. Observe your child’s response to various environments, ask questions, and make changes as needed.
Nurture inner motivation: Children are most willing to apply themselves when they enjoy and see value in their work. Don’t use external rewards as motivation. And, praise should be given for effort only—not outcomes.
Many parents believe that a Montessori education is the greatest gift you can give your child.
Montessori schools, as we’ve seen, are child-centred. They provide a unique learning environment tailored to children with different interests and abilities. And, this can begin as early as preschool or kindergarten.
The child-centred approach, introduced by Maria Montessori, is highly effective. Like the Waldorf and Reggio Emilia approach, it tends to produce students who are mature and well rounded. These students tend to have advanced intellectual, social, and practical skills. It also often produces students who are curious, have a love of learning, and are great critical thinkers and problem-solvers.
It should be no surprise, then, that graduates of Montessori schools have gone on to great things. Many have become world leaders in the arts, culture, business, technology, media, and other sectors. These graduates include:
What’s more, Montessori education has become more popular over the years. Since the middle of the 20th century, the number of schools has steadily increased worldwide. A rough estimate is that there are 20, 000 schools in the world, 4,500 in the United States, and 500 in Canada. While some of these schools are Montessori in name only, the vast majority are firmly committed to the Montessori philosophy and implementing it in the classroom.
Average class size
Special needs support
|Alive Montessori & Private School||Montessori||10 to 16||High|
|Bond Academy||Liberal Arts||15||High|
|Central Montessori Schools - York Mills||Montessori||15 to 24||Limited|
|Clanmore Montessori School||Montessori||High|
|The Element High School||Montessori||Mild difficulties|
|Forest Hill Montessori School||Montessori||Limited|
|Performance Montessori||Montessori||15 to 30||Mild difficulties|
|Royal Cachet Montessori School||Montessori||3 to 8||Limited|
|TMS School||Montessori||International Baccalaureate||Limited|
|Toronto French Montessori||Montessori||15||Limited|
|Westside Montessori Academy||Montessori||Limited|
|Westside Montessori School||Montessori||10 to 24||Mild difficulties|
|Century Private School||Progressive||Montessori||12 to 20||High|
|Ellington Montessori School||Montessori||High|
|Enquiring Minds Montessori Casa||Montessori||8 to 24||High|
|Peel Montessori Private School||Progressive||Montessori||High|
|Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS)||Progressive||Montessori||8 to 18||Limited|
|Tall Pines School||Montessori||15 to 18||High|
|Académie Vaudrin Academy||Progressive||Montessori||8 to 18||High|
|Aurora Montessori School||Montessori||18 to 24||Limited|
|Avalon Children's Montessori School||Montessori||12 to 15||High|
|École Montessori International de Montréal||Montessori||9 to 15||Limited|
|Bannockburn||Montessori||12 to 20||Limited|
|Beyond Montessori School||Montessori||5 to 15||Mild difficulties|
|Bishop Hamilton Montessori School||Montessori||High|
|Blaisdale Montessori School - Ajax||Montessori||Mild difficulties|
|Blaisdale Montessori School - Bowmanville||Montessori||Mild difficulties|
|Blaisdale Montessori School - Oshawa||Montessori||Mild difficulties|
|Blaisdale Montessori School - Pickering||Montessori||Limited|
|Blaisdale Montessori School - Scarborough||Montessori||Mild difficulties|
|Braemar House School||Traditional||Montessori||12 to 16||Moderate|
|Caribbean International Academy -St. Maarten||Traditional||5 to 15||Limited|
|Central Montessori Schools - Sheppard Campus||Montessori||15 to 24||Limited|
|Cornerstone Montessori Prep School||Liberal Arts||Montessori||10 to 15||High|
|Country Garden Montessori Academy||Montessori||10 to 15||High|
|Dearcroft Montessori School||Montessori||10 to 20||High|
|Dundas Valley Montessori School / Strata Montessori Adolescent School||Montessori||15 to 30||High|
|Durham Elementary, Durham Academy and G.B.M.S||Progressive||Montessori||8 to 15||Limited|
|Fairview Glen Montessori||Montessori||High|
|Guiding Light Academy||Progressive||Montessori||5 to 16||Limited|
|Hatch House Montessori School||Montessori||Limited|
|High Park Gardens Montessori School||Montessori||15 to 24||Mild difficulties|
|Home Sweet Home Montessori Academy||Montessori||Mild difficulties|
|Humberside Montessori School||Montessori||Limited|
|J. Addison School||Traditional||8 to 16||Limited|
|La Villa Montessori School||Montessori||Limited|
|Liberty Prep School||Montessori||10 to 26||Limited|
|Maria Montessori School||Montessori||Limited|
|Meadow Green Academy||Traditional||Montessori||12||High|
|Monkey See Monkey Do Montessori||Montessori||20||Limited|
|Montessori Alberta||15 to 25||Limited|
|The Montessori Country School - Milton Campus||Montessori||High|
|The Montessori Country School - Nobleton Campus||Montessori||High|
|Montessori For Children||Montessori||16 to 24||Limited|
|Montessori House of Children||Montessori||8||Limited|
|Montessori Learning Centre of Pickering||Montessori||Limited|
|Montessori School of Wellington||Montessori||22 to 24||Limited|
|Northstar Montessori Private School||Montessori||Limited|
|Odyssey Montessori School||Montessori||15 to 24||Limited|
|Prince Edward Montessori School||Montessori||10 to 16||Limited|
|River Valley School||Progressive||Montessori||12 to 18||High|
|Roots and Wings Montessori School||Montessori||8 to 20||High|
|Rotherglen School - Mississauga||Montessori||18||Limited|
|Rotherglen School - Oakville||Progressive||Montessori||18||Limited|
|Shepherd Montessori Private Catholic School||Montessori||10 to 15||Limited|
|Taddle Creek Montessori School||Montessori||16 to 24||Mild difficulties|
|The Mildenhall School||Montessori||16 to 24||Mild difficulties|
|Town Centre Montessori Private Schools||Progressive||International Baccalaureate||15 to 24||Mild difficulties|
|Unionville Montessori Private Schools||Traditional||Montessori||18 to 25||High|
|Wheatley School||Montessori||International Baccalaureate||15 to 18||Moderate|
|Wishing Well Schools||Traditional||Montessori||15||Mild difficulties|
|Yip’s Music & Montessori School||Liberal Arts||5 to 12||High|
|York Montessori School||Limited|
|Tuition (day school)||Students receiving financial aid||Grade eligibility for financial aid||Avg. aid package size (annual)|
|Alive Montessori & Private School||$13,500 to $14,500||20%||JK - 8||$2,000|
|The Element High School||$17,448|
|OMS Montessori||$12,864 to $19,260|
|TMS School||$20,250 to $25,440||K - 12|
|Ellington Montessori School||$7,900 to $14,000||5%||1 - 8||$3,000|
|Avalon Children's Montessori School||$13,100 to $14,750||5%||1 - 8||$10,000|
|Beyond Montessori School||$8,500||20%||1 - 8||$5,000|
|Bishop Hamilton Montessori School||$11,740 to $15,120||Nursery/Toddler - 8|
|Yip’s Music & Montessori School||$10,550 to $10,900|
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