Choosing an AMS Member School
AMS encourages member schools to meet quality standards.
While every AMS member school operates independently of our organization, by joining, it becomes a part of the larger Montessori community and can take advantage of the services we offer. Each member school is unique and will vary, from program levels served to curricular and extracurricular offerings, and more.
The American Montessori Society recognizes 5 components as essential to quality programs: properly trained Montessori teachers, multi-age classrooms, use of specially designed Montessori learning materials, child-directed work, and uninterrupted work periods.
Member schools that have earned AMS accreditation—the highest level of recognition for a Montessori school—incorporate these core qualities and meet a standard of excellence recognized by educators worldwide.
In addition, those of our member schools that are participating in our Pathway of Continuous School Improvement—which sometimes results in accreditation—demonstrate a commitment to meeting and sustaining standards of quality.
The AMS Pathway of Continuous School Improvement
The AMS Pathway of Continuous School Improvement supports schools in their ongoing commitment to providing and sustaining quality Montessori programs. We encourage all of our member schools to participate, and provide them with coaching services and other valuable resources to help them on their journey. Schools participating in the Pathway have a seal, indicating their step level, in our School Locator.
The Pathway has 10 steps:
Step 1 is an entry point for any member school that chooses to participate.
Steps 2 – 6 affirm that the school is integrating core components of Montessori into its programs.
Steps 7 – 9 indicate that the school meets educational and institutional standards.
Step 10 is AMS accreditation—the highest level of recognition for a Montessori school.
For more detailed information about each step level, visit our Pathway of Continuous School Improvement webpage.
About 15% of our member schools share the distinction of being AMS-accredited. Accreditation by the American Montessori Society is an affirmation that a school is implementing best practices in Montessori education, as well as in areas of health and safety, finance, and administration. It is the gold standard of Montessori education. You will know a school is AMS-accredited if it has an “Accredited” seal in our School Locator. The seal also says Pathway Step 10.
Finding the School That’s Right for You
In addition to being distinguished by their quality achievements and aspirations, AMS member schools have many other distinguishing characteristics, offering you a wide variety of choices.
For example, some serve only preschool-age children, while others have programs for infants, toddlers, elementary-age students, and/or adolescents. Some enroll a handful of students, while others have hundreds. Member schools can be privately owned and tuition-based, or free because they are public or charter schools. Some are independent; others are part of a larger organization, such as a university, teacher education program, or religious institution. Many include special offerings, such as dual languages, services specifically for children with special needs, and extended hours of operation.
We encourage you to research our member schools carefully to determine those that are the best fit for your child and your family—and to follow up by visiting them in person. Nothing can compare with seeing the Montessori classroom in action, and to talking with other parents and staff.
What to Look For
Learning about the basic tenets of Montessori before you visit a Montessori school will help you interpret what you are seeing through the lens of an educated consumer. Here are some things to ask about and observe when you are there:
- Is the school safe and secure? Is it clean?
- If the school is not AMS-accredited, is it working towards accreditation? Is it on the AMS Pathway of Continuous School Improvement?
- Do the teachers hold Montessori credentials for the age level they teach?
- Do the classrooms incorporate the 5 core components of quality Montessori?
- Are the students focused and actively engaged in their work? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves?
- Do teachers and students address one other kindly and respectfully?
- Do teachers speak with students at eye-level (vs. standing over them or talking from across the room)?
- Does the school offer information sessions for parents? Does it provide opportunities to parents to be involved in their children’s education, and if so, how?
If you have follow-up questions after your visit, don’t be shy about getting back in touch with the school. A sure sign of a quality school is one that welcomes inquiry and invites curiosity.