The Prepared Montessorian Elementary Diploma Program is an accredited online training program, and I recommend it without reservation to anyone looking for high quality Montessori Training.
This is not a sponsored post, and I did not receive compensation from Prepared Montessorian to write this review. However, I have included Amazon affiliate links to products that I use and enjoy. These are for your convenience. I do receive a small percentage from every purchase without any increase to your price.
Why I Chose Prepared Montessorian
Choosing Prepared Montessorian for my training program wasn’t a difficult choice for me.
- I knew that I needed a distance program. I couldn’t move away from home for two years to complete an in-person training course.
- My end goal was to be a fully trained Montessori Elementary guide in a brick and mortar classroom.
- I wanted a combined lower and upper elementary diploma that was MACTE accredited.
- Cost was not a consideration for me. I did receive a scholarship after being accepted to the program.
- I met some of the trainers before signing up and had a really positive impression of them and the philosophy of the program. (My first impression was right, the trainers are lovely people!)
- I previewed some of the training materials and I felt like they were high quality. Watch an actual training lesson here to see for yourself.
A Practical Education
Our scope and sequence covered the full range of academic courses for lower and upper elementary, including how to present all of the physical materials. But Prepared Montessorian went beyond the standard scope and sequence as well.
For lower elementary we learned some of the essential primary lessons to help “bridge kids” who may not be developmentally prepared for elementary. For upper elementary, we were given a fully fleshed out history curriculum, and additional math lessons for children who are ready to start middle school mathematics.
Most importantly, our training taught us the science of reading and we were given all the tools to teach children how to read. In most training programs, it is assumed that a child will enter elementary already knowing how to read, though if they didn’t attend Montessori before, this is rarely the case.
During the summer sessions, we were also given a crash course on lesson planning, record keeping, parent-teacher relationships, classroom management and how to observe. We learned how to give purposeful and meaningful follow up work, help students with their work journals, how to give conferences, and so much more.
My trainers remarked often that this is the practical information they wish they had gotten during their training.
High Fidelity Philosophy
It is possible to learn how to present the Montessori materials without taking a diploma course. There are albums for sale online that have detailed instructions, and there are videos that can explain the mechanical steps of how to present most materials.
However, Montessori education is much, much more than the materials. The materials are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The Montessori method is a holistic approach to childhood development that aims to educate the whole child. In order to successfully do this, you need to understand the philosophy.
Prepared Montessorian spent a lot of classroom time ensuring that we knew more than just how to present the materials. During the summer sessions, you have intensive theory courses led primarily by Matt Bateman, the in house philosopher. Throughout the year, at the biweekly live meetings, we often discussed guiding principles and why we do things the way we do. After every chapter of homework, we had short writing assignments connecting practical work to theory.
This is irreplaceable and can only be learned from quality trainers who have decades of classroom of experience.
How Do I Become a Montessori Teacher?
This is a hybrid program, most of the year you are working online from home. We met every two weeks for a live Zoom call to talk about the chapters covered and the new chapters coming up, and we met once a month on Saturday for a long guided practice session. During these meetings we would practice lessons, have in-depth discussions and connect the practical work to the philosophy of Montessori education. Per MACTE requirements, you must attend all of these live.
There are two in-person summer workshops that occur over the summer. Because I enrolled in 2020, both years of my summer sessions were held online instead of in-person due to lockdowns and travel restrictions.
This program is asynchronous, but it is not self paced. You are expected to keep pace on a biweekly basis, but you have flexibility within those two weeks on how you’ll complete the work. The diploma program takes two years and cannot be completed faster. Per MACTE requirements, the ability to give extensions is very limited.
If I can only get one point across in this Prepared Montessorian review, it’s that this is a full time course. It is not something you can ‘fit into’ spare time. I found this program to be more demanding than some courses I took in my bachelors degree program.
I worked for an hour every morning on FocusMate.com before work, which meant at least 5-6 hours every week. If I were to try and do all of my work on the weekends, I would have needed to devote an entire day, every weekend, for two years to classwork – in my opinion, that’s unsustainable. I suspect it is this unrealistic study schedule that led to many people dropping out of the program.
A final note, you do not get the summers off. Though the live sessions stop during the summer, you are still assigned a full course load that needs to be completed before fall session starts.
Practicum and Observations
If you are already in an elementary classroom, this part of the training would be rather easy for you to complete because all of your hours in the classroom count toward practice teaching. This was not the case for me.
I do not live anywhere near a brick and mortar Montessori school, and so I had to travel to complete this part of the program. In-person practice teaching does not need to be done all at once or all at one school, but that was the best option for me because I was pregnant.
I reached out to over a dozen schools across the country (wherever I had friends and family nearby that I could live with) and asked if I could complete my practice teaching with them. I got a few rejections from schools that were still under lockdown and not accepting outsiders, and a few acceptances. I ended up choosing the school closest to my house which was two hours away.
I took 10 weeks off, both unpaid leave and saved vacation time, and lived in an AirBnB while I completed my practice. My husband is the primary bread-winner and was highly supportive, so though it was difficult, this option worked for us.
Practice with Montessori Materials
You will need access to the complete range of lower and upper elementary materials to practice, but you do have some options.
You are provided with recorded videos of every lesson, and you are given a typed template of the lesson with additional teacher-facing notes from the trainers, suggestions for follow up work, and how to assess understanding. You do not need to write your own albums from scratch in this training. You do not draw your own charts and timelines in this training.
Your deliverables for self-study are a presentation card for every single lesson, 1-2 practice videos for each chapter, and a short written response to every chapter of work.
It’s generally frowned upon to bring your entire album to a lesson, but a small set of notes is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged. In Montessori lingo, these notes are called a presentation card. You can create these notes in whatever way works best for you, whether that is typed and printed, or handwritten. I’m a handwriting kind of gal.
Materials I Used to Complete My Homework
It is important to keep in mind, that whatever system you choose for writing your presentation cards, that this is also going to be what you use in your actual classroom. These homework assignments are not busy work. These cards are going to be what you bring to actual lessons in the classroom for several years, until you have practiced enough to have memorized all the lessons.
The entire diploma course has over 800 lessons to keep track of. I foolishly started with flashcards, which became unmanageable very quickly. Tragedy struck halfway through the program when I spilled an entire mug of coffee into the shoebox that held all of my work. Despite using waterproof ink, all of my cards were essentially destroyed.
I switched to notebooks shortly after and I wish I had used them from the start.
My Tools For Writing Presentation Cards
- Two Tomoe River Journals in A6 size – I write in very small and neat cursive, and I have been using Tome River paper for years now. It’s ultra thin paper that can hold fountain pen ink, so my two notebooks, holding over 800 lessons, fit in a small bag. These notebooks come with blotting paper- win!
- Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pens – I write a lot, sometimes for hours a day, so it’s important that my tools don’t hurt my hand. This pen is ultra-lightweight, has an ergonomic grip on it, and like all fountain pens, writes very smoothly with barely any pressure. The ink can be refilled from a bottle, or you can use cartridges.
- Noodler’s Waterproof Ink – After the coffee spilled, I vowed to always use waterproof ink. Refilling from a bottle is easy (faster than finding a new pen) and cost effective. Bonus: Students think it’s super cool when you refill a pen.
- Pilot G-TEC C03 – These are the pens I used before I switched to fountain pens, they write almost as smoothly. If you write small, go with the 0.3 nib. The 0.25 nib dries out too easily, and the 0.4 nib is too goopy.
- Mildliner Markers – I color coded my notebooks, each of the six subject area got it’s own color, so when I thumb through my notebook I can quickly tell what section I’m in.
All of these, plus a pencil and eraser, were stored in a small canvas zip bag. When I’m in the classroom, I bring just one of my small notebooks to the lesson. I never lose or misplace a flashcard (like I did at the beginning) because all of the work is bound together, and if I need to present a different lesson on the fly, I have everything with me.
Tools for Capturing Video
- I used my phone to record all of my videos.
- Camera Tripod with phone mount – I used the tripod to capture classroom practice, or when the material I was working with didn’t fit on a table (like the Timeline of Life).
- Overhead Desk Mount Phone Holder – I used this more than I used the tripod, but I only used it at home.
- vFlat Scanning App – Free app that I used to scan and submit all of my observation notes.
- I also used a free video compression app to shrink my videos before uploading. I don’t love the one I used, so I won’t recommend it.
Bottom Line: Is Prepared Montessorian Right for You?
You must be able to answer YES to the following questions to know if Prepared Montessorian is the right training program for you:
- Are you able to commit to a college level workload for two years?
- This is about 6 hours a week on top of the live video calls.
- Do you have the self-discipline to complete the work without being in a physical classroom?
- I used Focusmate.com to keep myself accountable.
- If you are not already in an elementary classroom, do you have a plan for completing the in-person practicum?
- I didn’t know exactly where I was going, but I knew I would need to travel for a few months to complete this part of the training, and I was ok with that.
Things I Didn’t Like About Prepared Montessorian
I loved my training. I can only think of nit-picking complaints, but in an effort to be transparent, I’ll share those with you as well.
- Like all distance learning, it can be lonely. Forming friendships and deep connections with classmates can be awkward and takes an active effort.
- Record keeping was challenging, especially if I got behind. I originally recorded all my assignments in my planner, like I did in college, but eventually switched to a spreadsheet to track everything.
- You do not get a break. The live sessions are put on hold during the summer and during winter break, but the actual workload is never stopped. I felt burnt out at times.
- Prepared Montessorian doesn’t (yet) offer professional development for elementary teachers, only this diploma course. I want more!!
If you are serious and looking for an accredited Montessori Elementary training program, I have no reservations whatsoever recommending Prepared Montessorian.