Choosing a Montessori School – Are They a Member of the American Montessori Society (AMS), and Are Teachers Certified?

One way to help determine if your child would be getting a true, quality, Montessori education at a school that you’re touring, is to ask about the credentials of the school and its teachers. Of the approximately 4,000 Montessori schools in the U.S. only about 1,100 are members of the American Montessori Society (AMS). While not all quality Montessori schools are necessarily members of the AMS, and it does not guarantee the quality of the education a member school offers, AMS membership does hold the school accountable to the Society’s Code of Ethics and principles of membership which the AMS stands for.

It is also important to know if the teachers are American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) certified. AMI and AMS are the two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States.  Most AMI and AMS training centers require a bachelor’s degree for admission. Training ranges from 200 to 600 pre-service contact hours, covering the principles of child development and teaching the Montessori philosophy. The training also teaches specific uses of the Montessori classroom materials.

Montessori training centers can be found across North America and around the world. Montessori teachers are trained to teach based on the philosophies of Montessori, which strive to understand the inner nature of the child and encourage learning based on this. Teachers are taught to observe the child and determine what is of interest to that child. They also prepare the environment to meet the needs of the observed child. Beware, that there is a difference between “training” and “certification.”

Certification involves taking classes in:

  • Montessori philosophy
  • Classroom organization and management
  • Curriculum
  • Manipulatives

During the certification process, teachers are required to write papers, make a manual which is a compilation of the Montessori lesson plans, and pass tests. Training can be deceptive. Typically, this should refer to taking the course required to become a certified Montessori teacher. However, anything the director of a school calls “training,” is training. If the school has a good director and is a “true” Montessori school, the training will be a course that leads to certification. However, if a school is not a true Montessori school, the “training” might just be a meeting where the ins and outs of a school are taught, or where the teachers read a little bit about Montessori philosophy. Talk to the director of the school you are considering to determine if the school provides an authentic Montessori education.

More in this series:

8 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Montessori School