Guidelines for Starting New AMI Programs
In planning the development of a new AMI program, 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 a non-teaching assistant, a complete set of materials without extraneous items, full class sizes, and uninterrupted work periods. For the assistants to infancy program level, class size guidelines are 10 to 14 children from 18 months to three years, with a two hour morning work period. For the primary and elementary program levels, 24 to 35 children of a three year age span, with uninterrupted work periods every morning for three hours and every afternoon for two to three hours are the goal. At the elementary level, one work cycle per week can be allocated 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 the 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.
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 eight to ten children at each age group in each class for the primary and elementary program levels. A full number of children at each age group is important because the hallmark Montessori peaceful group dynamic and social cohesion depends 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. As an example, for assistants to infancy you can being with a group of four to six children, and for primary and elementary, you can begin with a group of 12 to 15 children. In January and March, two to three children can be added. By the end of the first year, there will be six to nine children for toddler, or 16 to 21 children in the primary and elementary 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 the assistants to infancy level, the number of assistants can be equal to one adult for every five children.
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 required documentation submitted with the yearly application.
Ideally all children will return, and there is a core group of six to nine children from 18 months to three years old in toddler, or 16 to 21 children from three to six years old in primary and six to 12 years old in elementary. Four or five new children can join the toddler class for a total of 10 to 14 children. Six to eight new children can join primary and elementary classes for a total of 22 to 29 children. Two or three children can again join in January and March. By the end of the second year, there will be 26 to 35 children for the primary and elementary classes.
The class will have one AMI-trained teacher and one non-teaching assistant. The full complement of Montessori materials is available depending on the needs and specific ages of the children. For toddler, the class schedule consists of a two hour morning work period. For primary and elementary, the class will function as a full day classroom with a three hour morning work period and two to three hour afternoon work periods each day.
If the number of children is sufficient and all of the AMI standards are documented as required in the yearly application, the class may be eligible to receive the AMI Recognized status.
If all children return, you will be able to continue the class while accepting new children to maintain the optimal size of 10 to 14 children for toddler, and 24 to 35 children for primary and elementary.
The class will have one AMI-trained teacher and one non-teaching assistant. The full complement of Montessori materials is required.
The class has achieved and submitted documentation for all of the AMI standards in the yearly application, and receives the AMI Recognized status for the current school year.
* The plan for the first two years may be spread over three years.