Finding an authentic Montessori school can be difficult, especially for those who are unsure of what to look for. The name Montessori is not protected by trademark and so it can be used by anybody, regardless of whether they follow the Montessori philosophy. Authentic Montessori schools, however, will share several common qualities. When visiting Montessori schools, we recommend using this as a checklist to verify their authenticity.


Children learn within a prepared environment.

The Montessori classroom is a carefully prepared and organized setting for children to explore and learn. It’s very well-organized with logical groupings of material arranged in a neat and orderly way. Each cluster reflects a certain topical area such as language arts, math, and other curricular disciplines.

The classroom is lovely, tidy, and well-organized. There is no teacher’s desk or space, only a designated chair. Everything is set up so that you may move around freely without disturbing the work on the floor or at the table. The environment is peaceful and uncluttered, with a neutral background that removes visual distractions and makes working easier.

The room or setting is furnished with child-sized furniture including shelves to store and organize things, and a range of fun workplaces for the children. Montessori materials are easily accessible for sensory exercises, practical life, math, reading, science, history, culture, geography, botany, etc. The materials are in good condition, clean, and complete. Students have unrestricted access to them without the intervention or help from a teacher.


Children lead themselves.

Montessori teachers guide students through individual lessons in which they show them materials. They do not, however, educate in the sense that they are the only source of information in the classroom. Children do not sit at desks in a Montessori classroom, simply watching the teacher pour information into their heads. Rather, they lead the children on a journey of discovery, allowing them to investigate each subject at their own pace. The teacher sets up the classroom for his or her students and allows them to choose their own work. The joy of discovery is what inspires creativity and happiness.

Children can choose where they sit, what they do, with whom they work, and when they work. In a Montessori school, a child is free to work on a piece of content for as long as he or she wants. Repetition is not only permitted but encouraged. As a result, children learn responsibility for their decisions and the consequences of their choices.


Children work without interruption in 2–3-hour cycles.

Children have an extended period of “free time” during the day, referred to as the “uninterrupted work cycle,” which is a critical component of Montessori classrooms. Students are allowed to choose something from the classroom, do it at their own pace for as long as they are interested, then clean up, return it to the shelf, and choose another activity. Children in Montessori environments are encouraged to continue this cycle of activity without being interrupted by large-group activities, adults, or other children.

Individual differences in the learning process are recognized and respected during this period of uninterrupted work. Teachers conduct individual and small-group instruction as well as help and supervise students’ progress. Children not only learn and acquire knowledge but also develop coordination, concentration, and independence during this uninterrupted work period.


Children are learning with Montessori materials.

Montessori students don’t watch math videos or listen to lectures. Rather, they use authentic Montessori multi-sensory materials to physically touch, hold, and feel the numbers. In the child’s imagination, the concepts they encounter come to life and take on new meaning. From language, science, and math to culture, practical life, and sensory exercises, this approach is used throughout the Montessori curriculum. Montessori materials, often made of hard wood or metal, are a series of hands-on learning equipment that have been scientifically designed. Each of the specialized products is one-of-a-kind to Montessori and was created with a specific learning goal in mind.


Children are of mixed ages in the classroom.

A mixed-age grouping of children is the foundation of all Montessori programs. There are no single grades in authentic Montessori classrooms; instead, multi-age grouping is used. Children learn best in a mixed-age classroom while acquiring distinctively human social experiences. One of Montessori’s core concepts is that younger children learn by imitating older ones. Older children, on the other hand, act as role models and can reinforce their own learning by guiding their younger peers. Respect for others and collaboration are encouraged in multi-age classes. In addition to encouraging mentorship and developing leadership abilities, the multi-age classroom fosters an atmosphere of respect and constructive behavior.

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