by Ann M. Colford

The Children's House is now the second preschool in Spokane to follow the AMI (Association of Montessori Internationale) philosophy, following the long-established Woodland Montessori School. AMI, founded in 1929 by Dr. Maria Montessori, is one of two major organizations offering Montessori training in the United States, along with the American Montessori Society (AMS). Both groups require a bachelor's degree for admission, and training covers child development, use of Montessori materials and the philosophy developed by Dr. Montessori in Italy nearly a century ago.

Maria Montessori, born in 1870, became the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. From her early work with children at the University of Rome psychiatric center and later at her own Casa Dei Bambini (Children's House) in the city's slums, she developed her philosophy of education. Montessori believed that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed; this belief contrasts sharply with the prevailing theory of that time, which held the child is simply a "blank slate" to be written upon by teachers and parents.

Dr. Montessori first came to the United States in 1915 at the invitation of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and others, and she spent four months demonstrating her methods at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. Later, during World War II, she left Italy due to her anti-fascist views and spent the war years in exile in India. Her basic message, to "follow the child," spread across the globe and continues to influence educational theories nearly a century after her work began.

Several Montessori schools are available in the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area for all ages, from infants and toddlers through the elementary grades. The Spokane Public School system established Montessori classrooms at two elementary schools, Jefferson and Balboa, following the AMI philosophy. Because demand for these programs exceeds available space, enrollment is determined by lottery.

Area Montessori schools and programs are now enrolling students for the academic year beginning in September. Parents should be aware that the term "Montessori" is not trademarked, so it's important to ask questions about philosophies, affiliations and certifications at any Montessori school under consideration. The international Montessori Web site (, supported by Montessorians of all schools of thought, recommends that parents take the following steps:

* Ask if the school is affiliated with any Montessori organization.

* Ask what kind of training the teachers have.

* Visit the school, observe the classroom in action and later ask the teacher or principal to explain the theory behind the activities you saw.

* Talk to your child's prospective teacher about his or her philosophy of child development and education to see if it is compatible with your own.

Area Montessori Schools

Children's House Montessori School

1526 E. 11th Ave. * 868-2337

Children's Montessori Center

905 N. Pines Rd. * 922-6106

Montessori Central School

5720 S. Perry * 467-5015

Montessori Early Learning Center

5508 N. Alberta * 328-7600

St. Aloysius Montessori Preschool

611 E. Mission Ave. * 489-STAL

Spokane Montessori School North

9009 N. Wall St. * 466-6959

Spokane Montessori School West

4040 W. Wright Dr. * 328-6466

Valley Montessori School

14711 E. Broadway Ave. * 924-6629

Woodland Montessori School

4342 W. Ft. Wright Dr. * 328-3156

Cornerstone Montessori


Countryside Montessori

5321 N. Best Rd. * 891-4398

Heartsong Montessori and Childcare

501 Pine, Clark Fork, Idaho


Liberty Lake Montessori Preschool

23621 E Second Ave., Liberty Lake


Montessori School of Pullman, Inc.

NW 115 State St., Pullman

(509) 334-4114

Montessori School on Evergreen

910 S. Evergreen St. * 922-2202

Orpha's Montessori School

412 W. Crawford Ave., Deer Park


All Families Montessori

13111 North Boston Rd., Mead


Balboa Elementary School

3010 W. Holyoke Ave. * 353-5206

Jefferson Elementary School

3612 S. Grand Blvd. * 353-4444

Southside Montessori Elementary

3220 S. Grand Blvd. * 624-1316

Publication date: 03/11/04

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