As a parent, choosing the right school for your children is always a difficult process. This becomes even trickier for Montessori parents, as locating an authentic Montessori school can be a complex process. So, how can Montessori parents find the school of their dreams?
While there’s no master list that can tell you if a school is authentically Montessori, there are several trustworthy resources available to learn about Montessori schools near you. These resources can help you discover Montessori schools in your area, their accreditation status, and if they’re the right fit for your family.
There are 5 major Montessori School Locators that can help you find a Montessori School near you:
- Association Montessori International School Locator Page
- American Montessori Society School Locator Page
- The Montessori Census School Locator
- International Montessori Counsel School Locator
- Guidepost Montessori School Locator
We have these school locators divided below into “best”, “good”, and “good when used with caution”. Then further down the article we delve into each of these organizations and their accreditations, affiliations, or lack thereof.
Here’s the thing: Maria Montessori never trademarked the term “Montessori.” While this is very in keeping with her values, it can cause issues if you’re a parent trying to find an authentic Montessori school. This is because any school can claim to be a “Montessori” school, regardless of its teaching methodology.
So, how can you find out if a school is really a Montessori school? The short answer is: accreditation. But accreditation alone can’t tell you if a school is the right fit for your child. If you want to read an in-depth article about accreditation, check out this one. Then, continue below to explore our curated list of trusted resources and learn how to find the right Montessori school for you.
Montessori School Locator Resource List
Best overall resources to find accredited Montessori schools:
The Association Montessori International and the American Montessori Society are the only two widely-recognized accreditors for Montessori schools. Each organization has a school locator page on its website.
Good resource for searching for Montessori schools:
The Montessori Census runs a helpful map that allows you to search for Montessori schools in your area, with schools labeled as either public or private. A good resource if you’re looking for a particular type of Montessori school, but make sure to check anything you find here for accreditation status.
Good resources to find Montessori schools (to be used with caution):
There are a few other ways you can find Montessori schools near you. However, it’s important to know that these resources and strategies aren’t a sure bet if you’re looking for accredited schools.
The first strategy is to simply google “Montessori schools near me,” which will give you at least an overview of what’s in your area.
There are also two other school locators you can use. The first, the International Montessori Counsel, boasts an accreditation alternative to AMI or AMS. Though the IMC was founded in 1998, and has been operating consistently for some time now, its accreditation has not been widely recognized.
The second resource, Guidepost Montessori, has an easy-to-navigate school locator for their particular franchise of schools. While it appears that at least most of these schools are AMS-accredited, it would be prudent to check if you find one you like.
Finding the Right Montessori School Locator for You
With our list of school locator resources, it’s not too difficult to choose which resource is right for you. Here is some information about each resource to help you make your decision:
Association Montessori International (recommended): The AMI is the more traditional of the two major Montessori accreditors. This is where you want to go if you’re looking to have your child educated in the way that most closely resembles the original Montessori method. The school locator takes the form of a map. When you click on a particular school, you will be provided with its name, location, contact information, school administrator, and AMI recognition status. The recognition status is how AMI marks a particular school’s accreditation status. School can be Recognized, Affiliated, Associated, or Provisional. More information on each of these categories can conveniently be found directly above the locator map.
American Montessori Society (recommended): AMS accredited schools teach using traditional Montessori methods tailored to contemporary American culture. This is where you want to go if you’re looking for a more modernized version of Montessori methods with updated elements like current events and technology education. The school locator takes the form of a map with an accompanying list. The list displays information about the school name, location, age range, number of students, and summer program availability. You can click on the school, which will bring you to a page with more details like contact information, programming, and accreditation status. Be aware, though, that some of these pages are very detailed while others are missing some information.
The Montessori Census (recommended with caveats): The Montessori Census isn’t affiliated with any accrediting body, but instead with The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, which is a great resource for parents passionate about (or simply interested in) public education. The Montessori Census has an easy-to-use school locator tool that takes the form of a map. Helpfully, it also allows you to filter your search by school type (public or private) and age range. When you click on a school, you’ll be shown that same information as well as a link to the school website. This is a great resource to use to narrow down your search, but make sure to run any school you find here through the AMI and AMS website to check its accreditation and find out more details.
International Montessori Counsel: This resource is only recommended if you’re looking specifically for IMC schools. The school locater page is difficult to use and displays any school claiming to be “Montessori,” regardless of accreditation. It might be more helpful to use the list of IMC schools on the website instead, as it’s a relatively short list.
Guidepost Montessori: As with IMC, this resource is mainly recommended only if you’re looking specifically for Guidepost schools. Guidepost is not an accreditor. Instead, it’s a franchise of Montessori schools, most of which seem to be AMS accredited (though you should double-check any school you find here just to be safe.) On the plus side, the Guidepost school locator is very informative and user-friendly. The only school locator on this list not structured as a map, the Guidepost search engine allows you to filter for both location and program type. So, you can search specifically for Spanish-immersion Montessori schools in California or Montessori high schools in Ohio. All schools you will find using this search will be Guidepost schools. When you click on a school, you’ll be taken to a page that gives you a little blurb about the school, as well as contact information and details about locations, hours, programs, and tours and events.
So, now that you’ve decided on which school locator(s) you want to use, what’s next?
Finding Your Perfect Fit
Making sure that a school is accredited is only the first step in the process to finding your “perfect fit” Montessori school. For some, accreditation might not even matter! It all depends on what works best for you and your child. Montessori schools are as diverse and varied as any other school type, so it’s important to have a vision of what you’re looking for as you search. Here are some things to consider:
- Does accreditation matter to you? If so, what kind(s)?
- Are the teachers trained and certified in Montessori methods? How can you find this out? (You can try looking on the school website, looking on AMS or AMI, or contacting someone at the school.)
- Do you want your child to attend a public school? A private school? Or does it not matter?
- How large are the class sizes? Can you see your child thriving in that environment?
- What are the school’s hours? Do they align well with your work schedule? Are there any after-school offerings?
- How much time do you want your child to spend outside during the course of the day?
- Are you looking for any special programs like language immersion or arts education?
- Is student and teacher diversity important to you?
- Are strong test scores and academic metrics important to you?
- Have you checked reviews on sites like GreatSchools or Niche? These sites can also provide important data to help you answer other questions on this list.
- Are there other Montessori parents you can talk to, either in person or online, to find out additional information about schools you’re looking at?
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, a great next step is to have a thorough discussion with your child about what they want in a school. Remember, they’re the one who’ll be attending, so their opinion is paramount. If you can, write down their criteria to use when you go in to visit the school in person.
Speaking of visiting schools, this will hopefully be your last step before finding the school of your dreams! Visits are typically pretty easy to arrange by either attending a public tour or open house, or by reaching out to the school to arrange a personalized visit.
During your visit, you can look for signs of faithful Montessori teaching methods such as:
- Mixed-age classrooms
- Toys and tools made out of natural materials
- Students engaged in focused, independent work/play
- Classrooms arranged into work stations
- Teacher and students communicating calmly and respectfully
The most important thing to look for, however, is what makes a school the right fit for your family specifically. If it’s important to you that your child has access to a rich set of diverse reading materials, check out the classroom libraries. If your child wants to make sure they go to a school with “nice kids,” pay attention to how the students speak to each other during class. Overall, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Finding your “perfect fit” school can feel challenging, but it can also be a fun and rewarding experience. There are so many great Montessori schools waiting to be discovered! Good luck!