Guidelines for starting new AMI Primary and Elementary programs

In planning the development of a new primary or elementary programs, it is necessary to consider the goal of achieving a fully functioning environment as soon as possible. The AMI standards provide a structure for planning: one trained AMI teacher with one non-teaching assistant, a complete set of materials without extraneous items, 24-35 children of a three year age span, and uninterrupted work periods every morning for 3-hours and every afternoon for 2-3 hours. The elementary level is allowed one work cycle per week for specialist classes.

The AMI standards maintain the level of excellence that Maria Montessori envisioned and were developed by the AMI Scientific Pedagogy Group for this purpose. These standards ensure that children are provided the opportunity for full intellectual, social, and psychological growth and that the approach is consistent with what is presented in AMI training courses worldwide. It is upon these standards that AMI recognition status is granted by level within the school, each year. Each level receives a distinct status, which may or may not be the same as the other levels at the school. The three status levels are Recognized, Affiliated and Associated.

First Year

A large and mixed age group is an essential aspect of the Montessori approach. If there is truly a three year age span, this translates to only 8 to 10 children at each age group in each class. A full number of children at each age group is important because the hallmark Montessori peaceful group dynamic and social cohesion depend on having a wide variety of role models engaged in a wide variety of work for new students to observe in preparation for their own work with a material. Therefore, it is recommended that a class begin with as wide an age span as possible and as large a group as possible in the first year. In the fall, begin with a group of 12-15 children. In January and March, 2-3 children can be added. By the end of the first year, there will be 16-21 children in the class.

The class will have one AMI-trained lead teacher and one non-teaching assistant, and it is recommended that the materials available should be only those for which the children are ready.

For primary, the first year can be half-day only. If offering a full-day program, there will be an afternoon work period for the children who do not nap.

The class may be eligible for Recognized status if all of the other AMI standards are achieved and the documentation submitted with the yearly application.

Second Year

Ideally, all children will return, so you have a core group of 16-21 children from 3 to 6 in primary and 6 to 12 in elementary. Six to eight new children can join for a total of 22-29 children. Again, 2-3 children can join in January and March. By the end of the second year, there will be 26-35 children.

The class will have one AMI-trained teacher and one non-teaching assistant, and the full complement of Montessori materials is needed depending on the needs and specific ages of the children. The class will function as a full day classroom (3 hour morning work period, 2-3 hour afternoon work period.)

If the number of children is sufficient and all of the AMI standards are documented, the class may be eligible to receive the AMI Recognized status.

Third Year

If all children return, you will be able to continue the class while accepting new children to maintain the optimal size of 24-35 children.

The class will have one AMI-trained teacher and one non-teaching assistant, and a full complement of Montessori materials is required.

The class has achieved and documented all of the AMI standards and receives the AMI Recognized status for the current school year.

* The plan for the first two years may be spread over 3 years.