1. Is the learning self-directed?
Montessori teachers do not teach.They are facilitators in the classic sense of that word. Dr. Montessori believed that children are capable of discovery and it is that thrill of discovery which leads to all sorts of creative enterprise. Observe a class. If you see a teacher pouring information in the children's heads, it probably isn't a real Montessori school.
2. Are the children passive or active in their learning?
Montessori children don't watch videos about math. They touch, hold and feel the numbers. They play with them. The numbers take on life and meaning of their own in the child's mind. If you see a teacher teaching and children merely watching, it probably isn't a real Montessori school.
3. Are there several age groups in the classroom?
One of Dr. Montessori tenets was that younger children learn by following the example of older ones. Consequently you will not find the traditional grade classifications in a Montessori school. If you are shown a first grade class, it probably isn't a real Montessori school.
4. Is there a strong cultural emphasis?
The cement which binds all of Dr. Montessori's work together is the notion that children must make the world a better place when they become adults. World peace was her cherished goal. Montessori maps should be in evidence as children learn from the earliest age that there is a world outside their school walls. If you don't see a strong cultural emphasis, it probably isn't a real Montessori school.
5. Is the school a member of the American Montessori Society?
Of the approximately 8,000 Montessori schools in the U.S. only 1,100 are members of the AMS. While membership in AMS is no guarantee as to the quality of the education a particular member school offers, it does hold the school accountable to the Society's Code of Ethics and principles of membership which the AMS stands for. Finally be sure to ask if the teachers are credentialed by the American Montessori Society.