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The Foundation for Montessori Education: a checklist

What to know when looking for the best Montessori school for your needs

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Finding a Montessori school that upholds Dr. Montessori’s philosophy and the proper use of the Montessori materials can be a challenge for parents.

The Foundation for Montessori Education, in Toronto, Ontario, has put together a checklist for parents as they research possible school choices for their children.

A properly functioning Montessori class will have:

  • Montessori teachers trained by an institute such as the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Teachers should also have specific accreditation for the toddler, primary, elementary and adolescent age group they are teaching.
  • A Montessori classroom should contain four teaching areas: practical life activities, sensorial, language and mathematics.
  • Classes representing a three-year age mix:
    Primary or Casa Environment two-and-a-half years to six years
    Elementary Environment six to nine years and/or nine to twelve years
  • Between 28 and 35 children per class including children within three years of age of each other to ensure social development.
  • Five mornings per week for younger children up to four years of age; five full days per week for children above four years of age.
  • Three uninterrupted hours of Montessori activities every morning and two hours in the afternoon.
  • Children spontaneously choosing their own activities and developing through individual discovery and exploration.
—Sandra Girlato, Director of Training, Foundation for Montessori Education

According the CCMA there are a number of factors that characterize an authentic Montessori school:

  • The classroom atmosphere will facilitate cooperative learning, peer teaching and emotional development by encouraging social interaction.
  • Daily and weekly schedules will allow large blocks of time to focus on problem-solving, make connections in knowledge and create new ideas.
  • Montessori learning materials that openly espouse the Montessori method and demonstrate it in fostering independent learning, intellectually, creatively and physically.
  • Partnerships with students' families, which are recognized as integral to the child's total development.
  • Qualified teachers educated in the Montessori philosophy and methodology. These teachers put key Montessori concepts into practice.
  • Students of various ages and grades grouped together.

Based on information provided by the CCMA on what makes an authentic Montessori school.

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