Although most schools try to remain faithful to their understanding of Dr. Montessori’s insights and research, they have all too some degree been influenced by the evolution of our culture and technology.
Perhaps the a more relevant question in selecting a Montessori school is to consider how well it matches your sense of what you want for your child.
Before coming to the Montessori Foundation, I served for twenty-two years as the Headmaster of the Barrie School outside of Washington, DC. In that role, every year I met with hundreds of families who were interested in enrollment. I always began each open house by reminding these bright, eager, and sometimes overly anxious parents that no one educational approach can be right for every child. The wisest goal is to seek out the best fit, not only between the child and the school, but also between parents’ values and goals for their child’s education, and what a given school can realistically deliver. I believe that finding the right school for mom and dad is as important as finding the right school for the child.
In the end, the selection of a Montessori school comes down to a matter of personal style and preference. If you visit a school and find yourself in harmony with its ambiance and practice, it will represent at least one example of what you define to be a good school.
In determining which school is best, parents have to trust their eyes, ears, and gut instincts. Nothing beats personal observation. The school that one parent raves about, may be completely wrong for another’s child. Conversely, another parent may have decided that “Montessori doesn’t work”, while it clearly is working very, very well for your family. I suggest that parents rely on their own experience, not hearsay from other families.
There is probably no clear-cut answer. Often one sign of a school’s commitment to professional excellence is their membership in one of the professional Montessori societies, such as the Association Montessori Internationale, the American Montessori Society, and the International Montessori Council, which is affiliated with the Montessori Foundation. All three also offer schools the opportunity to become accredited as well. There are several dozen other smaller organizations, and many excellent schools choose not to affiliate with any national organization.