Monday, July 9, 2012

Changing from AMS to AMI Montessori change

Montessori is a term that is not trade marked so any one can school or day care can say "Montessori" but Montessori certified or member schools in most parts of the world fall under an umbrella such as AMI or AMS.

A true Montessori school, in my view, includes the basic open environment for mixed-age groups, follows the scaffolding approach (as well as watch/learn/do/teach) as well as the physical materials (by a manufacturer who understands the materials and importance). However, some people are more "pro AMI" and others "pro AMS" than I am. But one would say you can't be open to other philosophies and be a true proponent of AMI.

Just having an open environment without a TV on does not make a home daycare a "montessori" environment, even though it is legal (as Montessori is not copyright/trademarked), a family has to know what options they have and what a Montessori school is.

AMI is the original standard for Montessori, and different countries have affiliated associations. For example, in India, schools often advertise as Montessori but aren't listed on any certification nor do they advertise their Montessori styles. Indian Montessori Foundation takes a census of schools to help weed through the many listed schools, but, their website discloses that listing doesn't endorse or recommend... Which means what to a family?

What is AMI?

Association Montessori Internationale was found in 1929 by Dr. Maria Montessori, for whom "Montessori" is named. Montessori is a prepared environment where by the schools affiliated with AMI follow through and have the same materials (by set manufacturers), same in-person trainings, and are audited and certified. The teachers are certified as well as the administrators to ensure there is thorough understanding of Montessori.

What is AMS?

American Montessori Society was found in 1960 by individuals who wished to revive Montessori education in the United States. Many of the general philosophies remain same or similar (enough) to the outsider that we may not see a difference. AMS, however, does not require their schools to be certified, but instead schools can self police and  be member schools. An accredited school would have many similarities to an AMI school in their required philosophies, 50% certified Montessori member teacher (but training for AMI and AMS differs) as well as the head of the school being a member. Each head teacher in a full member accredited school would be Montessori trained (from AMI, or other even). AMS have various memberships and a school has three years to become a full member school.

Schools that are full members of AMS or accredited by AMS require the lead teacher in every classroom to hold Montessori credentials from an accredited Montessori teacher education program. Associate AMS-member schools also provide credentialed teachers, although not necessarily in every classroom.

One benefit to many families, especially when there may only be one income is that AMS does not require a 5 day school week of children starting at age 2.5-3. While a child going 2 days a week will not get "as much" out of 5 days a week, for some families private preschool is just not within the budget. Some is better than none, right?

What does a change mean? 

Not all schools accept Montessori transfer between accreditation/styles. In the interviewing we did, most were open to our daughter's transfer - indicating that at age 4, she could still get 2-3 years in primary and engage either way.

I like that an AMI school has training on Montessori for families, so that they can support the same ideals at home. A big change for us will be letter recognition. Since our daughter is changing from an AMS school, we need to go from Print recognition to Cursive.

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