Which School is Best for Me?
The first thing you need to be aware of is that not all Montessori schools are alike. The word "Montessori" is not a trademark, and Montessori schools aren't a "franchise" or "national chain". There are no headquarters or governing office, and no centralized standards across all schools. This sadly means it is legally possible for schools to use the term "Montessori" without adhering to Dr. Montessori’s teaching methods. Worse yet, private schools in general DO NOT have to hire people with teaching certifications or even college degrees!
Not to imply that all do so, there are many that meet local and state standards for hiring, but there isn't a law that states that they have to. In fact, there isn't even a law that states that their teachers have to have high school diplomas! How can private schools get away with this? Simple, they rely on the belief that most people hold that private schools in general have higher standards for both their students and teachers. Although this is true for some, it certainly isn't for all private schools, Montessori or not.
It is therefore highly important that prospective parents become familiar with the Montessori Philosophy, method, and the materials in order to select an authentic school for their child. It is also important for parents to know how to question teachers and administrators about the credentials of the teaching staff. Many schools have some very creative ways of circumventing questions about credentials and accreditations.
Below you will find links to questions for the different people you will encounter while choosing a school. Each question will have information on what to look for, as well as a little information on the Montessori philosophy pertaining to that question.