What It Means to Be an Authentic Montessori School

You may have heard the term "Montessori method" before.

It represents a unique approach to education that emphasizes natural development and self-paced, hands-on learning.

From a young age, students in a Montessori classroom learn to use all five senses for discovery and work in a collaborative environment that celebrates a joyful attitude toward education.

This creative approach, which includes a one-of-a-kind school structure and specifically trained teachers, has led to impressive results.

However, authentic Montessori schools are few and far between, as they must be certified by the Association Montessori International (AMI) to be considered legitimate.

Below, we'll explore what an AMI certification means and why authenticity is so crucial.

An AMI Montessori School: Defined

Montessori is not a franchise and the usage of its name does not require a license or trademark.

Montessori is a philosophy of education and anyone is free to use its methods or name.

However, the only guarantee that a school actually implements the totality and authentic standards of the Montessori Method is through accreditation by an official accrediting body.

AMI schools and classrooms are unique in the mastery and comprehensiveness with which the concepts are imparted; the advancement, learning-rate and development of the children; and the levels of teacher training required.

Are All Montessori Schools AMI-Certified?

While some schools may use the terms interchangeably, it's important to note that not all schools who call themselves Montessori are actually AMI-certified. In fact, out of more than 4,000 self-described Montessori schools in the U.S., only 1,250 are actually affiliated with the American Montessori Society. Of these, only about 220 are recognized as official by AMI.

If you're a parent on the lookout for a Montessori education for your child, please know that the name itself does not ensure that the school follows all Montessori practices legitimately.

Authentic AMI-certified schools will have the accreditation to back up their claim, so we recommend doing your research and inquiring!

Why Is Authentic Montessori So Important?

With all this talk of Montessori authenticity, it's important to understand why genuine accreditation matters. After all, being AMI certified is so much more than just having the right name for your school.

The Montessori method is a unique and creative approach to education that is proven to have impressive results.

Notably, implementing the Montessori method is not something that all schools can do. Public schools do not have the freedom to implement the full Montessori method due to the restrictions and requirements of each state.

The Montessori model of an uninterrupted three-hour work period, for example, would not be possible within a regular school structure.

Additionally, the emphasis on creative and individualized learning — as well as the need for Montessori-certified teachers — requires resources often not available at a typical public school.

The real reason an authentic Montessori school is so crucial, however, is because it works.

Certified schools that follow the model laid out by founder, Maria Montessori, typically see myriad tangible results. Research indicates that Montessori students score higher on math and literacy tests along with showing advanced writing and social skills compared to non-Montessori peers.

These results, however, were not necessarily true of "lower fidelity" Montessori schools. The certified schools led to significantly higher school-year gains compared to both inauthentic Montessori schools and non-affiliated schools.

Five Components of an Authentic Montessori School

An authentic AMI Montessori school will have the following five criteria. If you're considering enrolling your child in a school that follows this method, be sure to look out for these components first:

  1. Teachers trained in a Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education-certified program
  2. Multi-age classrooms, typically including a three-year age group
  3. Montessori materials, such as textiles and materials designed for both sensory and practical use
  4. A three-hour uninterrupted work time
  5. Official recognition from the Association Montessori International or American Montessori Society

Learn More About an Authentic Education at Sapientia Montessori

Sapientia Montessori is recognized by the Association Montessori Internationale, AMI - the highest level of Montessori recognition worldwide - and by its local affiliate, AMI-USA. In order to maintain such recognition, our schools must implement the authentic Montessori Method of Education and meet rigorous reviews and requirements.

Sapientia Montessori is one of few AMI-Recognized Montessori schools in the Greater North Austin area. If you're interested in learning more about an education with Sapientia Montessori, schedule a tour today!

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