Humble Horizons Montessori

What it’s actually like pursuing a 0-3 Montessori classroom guide career when you’re AMI trained– should you do it?

I have been longing to create a blog post series where I dive into the experiences of being an AMI-trained classroom Montessori guide for infants and toddlers. AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) is the internationally-recognized Montessori lineage straight from Dr. Montessori and Dr. Montanaro. Dr. Montanaro is one of the pioneers of 0-3 Montessori programming, specifically.

I have worked at maybe over six programs now, where I am hired to either start a toddler program for the school from the ground up, or where I essentially implement what I can only call a “complete overhaul”– I take over a pre-existing classroom ran by someone who is not Montessori trained properly or at all, and I transform the shell of a “montessorta” into a high-caliber, correctly run, money-making machine for the company that hires me. (Feel free to skip the story that I included if you’re in a time crunch, and come back to it later).

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This one time… When I was living and working in California, I quit a decent position at a school for the chance to work at one of the best Montessori preschools in my city.

Long story short, turns out I was the only African American guide ever hired at this well-known school, in over 40 years of its existence. I begin to work for this school, stoked that I have finally “made it” in the Montessori world– a school designed literally by my trainer, absolutely gorgeous environments indoor and out, 11 toddlers, two assistants, the ideal work day, and pay I can actually survive off of.

Then the reality hit that I had not struck the jackpot with assistants. One was highly overemotional and sensitive (homegirl literally cried because I told her she could leave the dishes for later and start her break, just to give you an example). The other was an arguably racist 60something year old assistant who succeeded at getting me fired by accusing me of–you won’t even believe this because I didn’t either– poking a child under the armpits on purpose. It was literally like “I heard from Karen** (name change) that you… poked Fisher under the armpits. Is this true???”. Obviously, it was not true. But Karen had worked there for nearly four decades. So despite my literal example on the director of how I showed Karen to handle children’s bodies so that she wouldn’t hurt herself, I got fired anyway.

Through this bogus allegation, the director reassured me that I was not being accused of child abuse (you bet I asked her directly if I was being accused of child abuse for allegedly poking a child under the armpit, b/c why the heck else would such a meeting need to occur at all?). But here’s how she handled the allegation.

She decided to suspended me; and told me I could not step foot on the property for a few days until they made a decision of whether or not to keep me hired after they tried to prove or disprove whether this claim could be true; and told me that I was not allowed to talk to any of the school staff or parents about this incident or else I would for sure get fired immediately. I even tried to talk to their previous head director Kathy, who looked at me with a pained face and told me her hands were tied, because Kim was the new director and there was “nothing” she could do.

I’m pretty sure that kind of fear mongering and threat is fully illegal. But at the time, I was just stunned that something so ridiculous could actually be happening. Most importantly I obviously needed my job to survive and to keep my professional reputation in tact– which is the main reason Montessori guides keep our mouths shut about all the ridiculous stuff that actually goes down in Montessori schools. So I stupidly kept my mouth shut, and didn’t really know what to do. I genuinely didn’t think I would surely be fired for such an obviously ridiculous allegation… until I fully did get fired.

For the record I ended up telling Fisher’s mom all about this a few months later when I ran into her at a coffee shop. In retrospect, I absolutely SHOULD have opened my mouth and told everybody; and I should have then sued them for wrongful termination. But I was younger, easily swayed by the fear of losing a job, and unwise at the time.

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Which is the point of this entire post: Being a 0-3 trained Montessori preschool teacher is one of the most secretly ridiculous careers someone can possibly choose within the field of Early Childhood Education. Not because of the children and the actual work you will be doing, but because of all these ridiculous secrets that go down behind the scenes. And it’s not just me who has experienced this– the craziness and problems is a common thread across nearly all of the Montessori schools I have ever worked for.

These kinds of crazy stories have been told by so many of my colleagues no matter where they end up working. I have seen many colleagues leave preschool Montessori teaching behind because the absurdity, combined with the low pay and the very hard, thankless work, makes staying not worth it. I kept stupidly hopping from Montessori school to Montessori school, hoping for something better. But it has never gotten better. Even when I thought I had chosen the best schools in my cities of residence.

Give me an empty space, a budget, some toddlers, and the freedom to do the work I know needs to get done, and 110% of the time I will create an extremely high-quality toddler Montessori program that grosses at absolute minimum, $100K a year for a preschool. In May 2020, I literally turned someone’s empty back patio into a functional exclusively-outdoors Montessori program for a toddler. Within three months, little homie went from “mmm mmmm mmm!!” to full-blown back and forth discourse; and not even able to string beads to making his own flower lei. The success of my work speaks for itself; and I know it.

But trying to turn my training into a functional career has not been without some major issues. It’s not the work, necessarily (although if the program has the perfect disaster of combined problems, the work itself can be utterly insane when it doesn’t have to be). Ultimately, it’s the system in which many of us find ourselves doing the work we are trained to do, that generates all the problems. And these problems drive qualified and excellent 0-3 AMI trained Montessori guides right on out of the classroom. Which is secretly what the schools want, because it’s a lot cheaper not to have to pay qualified professionals for a job that any untrained person can fake their way through.

It’s the broken private Montessori preschool system and its jacked up directorships that prevent the montessori method from revolutionizing education for young children the way Dr. Montessori intended.

Will 0-3 AMI training give you the skills to run a high-caliber 0-3 Montessori program? Absolutely. Hands down, if you had to do a side-by-side comparison of the knowledge, skills, and effectiveness of an AMI trained guide vs a not-AMI trained guide (there is also the American Montessori Society, and other online Montessori training centres that people have never heard about), the AMI guide will blow everyone else out of the water. AMI training is so comprehensive because it is the “original gangster” of Montessori training. AMI trained Montessori guides are like the doctors of the ECE world– we transform lives and what we bring to the table is legit AF. Will a 0-3 Montessori classroom career work out for you if you are AMI trained, and can you establish a secure living off of being a 0-3 Montessori classroom guide? Nnnnnnnnot so much.

After my most recent layoff, I think it’s necessary for me to tell this side of the Montessori preschool teacher’s story. It would amaze people the incredible amount of appalling bullsh*t that I have experienced while working in this field; and what it has actually been like trying to pull off a career as a 0-3 AMI-trained guide.

What sucks the most is that you know you’re authentically transforming these babies’ and families’ lives through the work you’re doing. 95% of the parents are incredibly satisfied if not altogether shocked by how their child transforms as a result of your guidance. But literally no one else except for other Montessori guides understands what we have to deal with behind the scenes to make that happen. Our work with the children should matter the most; but it’s never the top focus of any 0-3 Montessori preschool I have ever worked for.

Where are these shangri la, authentically peaceful, ethically-run, beautiful Montessori programs you think await you after training? ::record scratch:: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they baaaaaaasically are like the rare unicorn of Montessori programs here in America. They do exist; but in such limited numbers that most AMI trained guides are not likely to be employed in one.

Here are 15 considerations every new 0-3 guide ought to know before you decide to take your training into a school, center-based program. I think every new Montessori guide emerging from 0-3 AMI training needs to know some truths about what to expect from this career. There’s a lot of ugly that awaits you in the real world. It’s best to not get your hopes up, and to understand clearly what it is you are signing yourself up for.

1. It doesn’t actually matter how trained a classroom 0-3 Montessori guide is. So I’m warning you now: don’t waste your time with the Master’s degree if you are pursuing 0-3 AMI training unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are going to be the program owner or a program director. Here’s the deal: any preschool director will put any random adult in charge of a 0-3 “montessorta” classroom (they advertise themselves as a Montessori classroom or school, but in reality the teacher is not at all Montessori trained).

The reason schools can pull this off because the untrained person can be trained by whoever she’s replacing; or be groomed by the school director to essentially pretend that she is qualified to teach a Montessori 0-3 classroom– again, even if she possesses zero Montessori training to speak of. No one will ever know that this goes down, no one ever thinks to ask if they can see their teacher’s diploma; and no one will ever give a f—. Because American society permanently perceives 0-3 centers as “daycare”, not as education.

2. Trust me, 0-3 AMI guides of America– you are precariously disposable. And here’s why. Any director would rather pay that untrained random $20K a year, and let that untrained random feel so stoked and grateful to be making $15 an hour, than to pay the higher salary of a formally trained Montessori expert. Also, most of the schools out there will be AMS, not AMI. And they will always prefer not-AMI trained guides at AMS schools because the AMI guides intimidate everyone with our extensive knowledge.

It’s not comfortable for someone to drop in outta nowhere, like the Mary Poppins of Montessori, and correct everything that school has been doing wrong for like, years. So if they could hire an AMS guide over an AMI one, or even better, someone untrained over someone trained, they absolutely will. They might hold onto you for a year before they realize you’re too knowledgable, too intimidating, and too expensive.

3. You will not get paid a livable wage for 0-3 Montessori classroom teaching in most places. And/or you probably will not get benefits. So genuinely, don’t even waste your time with 0-3 training– I strongly encourage every AMI-interested practitioner to start with primary or elementary, because at bare minimum, even if all the guides get paid the same regardless of their age range, you won’t have to work as hard in primary or elementary the way 0-3 guides are doing back-breaking physical labor wiping butts and carrying children around.

Or maybe choose some other completely different, but actually lucrative career. And if you still have a passion for babies and toddlers, go back for 0-3 training later after you have saved up $15K for training and can own your own house that you can teach your program out of. Or you can pursue some other passionate way to serve your community using AMI 0-3 training without needing to be a classroom Montessori guide for some bullsh*t center based nightmare.

I made as little as $13/hour in one position, I did not get health benefits in another, and in one of them I had paychecks habitually bouncing. For those companies which were able to pay me a wage that I could “live” off of (live, not thrive, just, survive), I still had to live paycheck to paycheck based on the cost of living because I am a single, independent female without a partner. It’s not like one can financially thrive off of 0-3 guide income. 0-3 work is not considered a true career unless you are a medical professional or business owner.

4. 0-3 Montessori teaching in a program setting is manual labor, guys. Bottom of the ladder, manual f*cking labor to be a 0-3 Montessori guide. You will be changing poop diapers, taking out diaper trash, washing dishes, doing laundry, sanitizing your entire classroom, scrubbing and moving wooden shelves, scrubbing toilets, plunging toilets, sweeping and mopping floors, and wiping snot from noses. Some people will tell you “that’s par for the course in this career, duh”. But a nurse, a plumber, and a janitor do all of those things–arguably only one of those tasks; and they make way more money than you ever will. You might be able to make the same pay as a 0-3 Montessori guide or Montessori assistant by JUST washing dishes somewhere. No joke.

One of my most shameful reveals is that at one of my jobs, I literally had to wash all of our classroom linens by hand, as if it was a legit original Montessori classroom from Maria Montessori days— with a scrub board and a basin of water. And then I had to take it all, wring it all out by hand, and hang it all up from clothespins to dry outside. This was in 2020, in America, mind you. I also had to hand-wash all of our dishes from the entire day.

Why would anyone do that in 2020? Because the director refused to buy a washer and dryer, or our own dishwasher for the classroom. I tried to advise her (begged her, basically) to consider getting a washer and dryer, and an external dishwasher for our classroom after we raised $22K from a fundraiser. Her response? And I quote “I don’t want to pay the electricity bill”. So instead, I had to hand wash all of our daily-used linens and dishes every day by hand; and the families had to take home the laundry every weekend. What did they intend to do now that it’s corona times, BTW? Let families take home the laundry??? Good luck with that.

5. The administration is straight up crazy 90% of the time. And if they’re not crazy (which they probably will be), then at least one of your assistants will be bat shit crazy or disturbingly incompetent. Here are some things I have had happen to or heard spoken to me across the past six years by directors and assistants.

“Me: If I renew my contract with you, can you reassure me that you won’t bounce my paychecks anymore? Director: I’m sorry but I can’t promise it won’t happen again.”

“me: Can we please buy a washer and dryer for the school? Director: I don’t want to pay the electricity bill” …. do you guys know how much money Montessori schools make???

“me: where are all the class records? Director: there are none.”

me: Is there any way I can go home a couple hours early or get paid for all the overtime I’ve been doing? It took me hours to sew materials, redesign our communication app, etc. Director: well, I have never known any classroom guide who can do all her work in 8 hours. This is a labor of love, and you are basically expected to volunteer your time. (me in my head: uh… I have literally worked at schools that only hire their lead guides for 6-7 hours per day. And we flourished, and all of our work always got done, actually…)

me to assistant: Karen, would you mind cutting out triangles for this happy birthday banner? Assistant: Umm… I don’t trust myself. (me in my head: to cut out triangles????)

assistant: I’m really offended that you asked me to go to the doctor. I think I know what MY body needs and when I feel I need to go to the doctor. me: you had ::pneumonia::, Karen. And I’m sorry. But you should be grateful I gave you our teacher prep day to even go to the doctor to find out you had pneumonia. As the lead of our classroom I have a responsibility to keep everyone in our classroom safe and healthy, including you.” Assistant: proceeds to start bawling in the public cafe we were meeting at, as if she herself was one of the two year old toddlers in our class.

“me: Where are the extra glue boxes stored? Director: what is a glue box? I’ve never heard of that before”– guys this lady was allegedly 0-3 trained from some AMS training centre in Colorado, and she was the school owner.

me: where are all the PSM materials stored? Director and other toddler lead, who are both AMS trained: <<stare at each other with blank stares>>… what do you mean?

me: Can me and colleague observe in each other’s classrooms one of these days? Director: I think you should actually watch colleague run your classroom for a morning. She is the toddler whisperer. I used to think I was the best teacher I knew until I met her. She is the best teacher in this whole school!” — me in my head: uh, WTF?? This wasn’t a teacher’s contest, and I wasn’t asking for mentorship–we asked for reciprocal observation time– where the hell did that rude and unfounded opinion come from? And did it mean the rest of us teachers at this school were trash in the director’s eyes?

…And just for the record, the colleague my director was referring to as “the toddler whisperer/ best teacher in this school” was AMS primary trained (not even toddler trained) for less than one year at this point. I’m confident that know what I’m doing when it comes to running a toddler Montessori classroom, thank you very much. But I also know the value and humility of observing others people’s classrooms as often as humanly possible. And P.S.– she couldn’t run my classroom for me even if she tried because I had a lot of materials in there that she wouldn’t even know how to present. Because they don’t do those things in AMS.

so… even if you feel really confident about the work you do, it won’t change the fact that directors and assistants aren’t the sharpest marbles in the box. In fact, I want to warn you that they are straight up questionable in sanity sometimes.

6. Montessori preschool is still group care at the end of the day; and the fact that it’s Montessori actually makes your job harder at the 0-3 level. We have very high standards in AMI-style Montessori preschool. It’s not like you’re just sitting around watching kids engage in free play with toys all day. Montessori materials are not just a bunch of open-ended, figure-it-out-yourself cheap kids toys anyone can find. They’re didactic materials, many of which are very expensive and breakable. Montessori in general also works based off of giving the children as much independence as humanly possible with said materials, and as they roam about the room. Just, imagine for a second, 12 babies given free reign to roam around any space together. So if that school doesn’t have its systems dialed, you will be working your ASS off just to maintain basic classroom management, period, point blank.

If you don’t have child-height sinks, and multiple sinks and toilets, you work harder. If there’s no washer and dryer, or no dishwasher, you work harder. If there’s carpet in the room, you work harder. If your room doesn’t have its own four walls, you work harder. If you share the playground with primary or other classes at the same time, you all work harder. If you have 26 toddlers in your room, you work harder. If the toddlers can’t reach the sink faucet, and the bathroom is down the hall and around a corner, you work harder. If that school decides all teachers have to work nine hours per day instead of only six or seven hour days, you work harder (and for the record no 0-3 Montessori program ever needs to last longer than 7 hours tops including staff lunch breaks, because these are babies, for Christ’s sake. Only grown adults should be required to have intensely structured days for 8 hours, and even then, we hate it). Just, clearly understand that how hard you work is dictated by the school’s program, and not by how well-trained you are.

7. This industry is designed to help these schools make hundreds of thousands of dollarsthey don’t actually care about the reality for the kids, or you. These group childcare businesses have a bottom line to maintain, and that is the top priority for any center-based program model. I have literally been told that the director did not want to pay the school’s electricity bill for a washer and dryer. I have worked for schools that bounced teacher paychecks, and would not pay for staff health benefits. I worked at a school that had me try to stretch two adult-sized bowls of mac & cheese among 11 toddlers. I worked for schools that charged $2,000 a month for tuition, and had hundreds of students in it, existed for decades already, and still did three fundraisers per year asking parents, grandparents of students, and even the staff to donate money to the school. Really? What have you guys been doing for the past 40 years?? Don’t you think it’s a bit ironic to ask staff, who YOU pay, to give our money back to the employer?

Let’s do some basic math, shall we? Let’s say that school is only charging $1000 a month in tuition, just for this example. In reality, Montessori private preschool tuition in America is more like $1600-3,000 a month. And this is no secret– most schools post it transparently on their websites. Most Montessori private preschools have two toddler and two preschool classrooms. Some have multiple campuses that do this. Each toddler classroom usually has a minimum of about 10 students, and each primary has about 20 on average. So let’s say your school has 60 students enrolled at $1000 a month on a 10-month school year. That’s $600,000 a year for a highly, highly conservative tuition estimate. Montessori is a very profitable preschool model. It’s just that I’m pretty sure the people involved in the system are greedy.

8. You will never be able to be truly honest with the parents, because in modern society everyone wants to feel good. And that school needs to keep its slots enrolled; so you must play along. If you piss off parents or upset them with truthful news about their child, who is 2.5 years old and still can’t say a single word yet, and is tearing the classroom apart rather than actually working, or is biting their peers ten times a day, that’s bad for business. And you will get axed before any families do, I most assure you. It doesn’t matter how many times that baby bit her peers.

9. Don’t even get me started on the special needs part— oh wait, you weren’t signing up to be a special ed teacher, you said? Umm… yes you are, LOL. We all are by default. I had children with suspected language delays every single year I have ever taught. I have had children with fully diagnosed physiological and developmental special needs.

I once had a 3 year old with autism in my toddler class (he did phenomenal, for the record), and I even had a kid with an analplasty and a child with a few missing fingers and toes who had to be in a cast for a cool minute. Both the sweetest little buttons; and we loved them, they were sooooo cute. But you also have the special needs kids with very challenging behavioral issues who tear your classroom apart, too. And who the directors won’t dismiss no matter how much disruption or physical harm they are causing their peers. You will be a sped teacher and Montessori guide, all at the same time, like it or not.

10. The program demands of various programs can be inhumane for you and the babies. For example, I have worked at programs that opened in the 6 o’clock hour, and closed at 5pm. That’s an 11-hour day; and there were babies who arrived as early as possible and left as late as possible. There would be babies who were there waiting to be let into the classroom at like, 6:15am, sitting there watching me set up the classroom. Some babies and toddlers would arrive still asleep a lot of the time. One time, I even had a baby fall asleep sitting up, while playing.

If a baby under age 3 is at the school longer than a grown ass adult working a 9 hour shift, I’m sorry but it’s inhumane. At that point, if you are a parent who has chosen the expensive preschool, you genuinely ought to reconsider a far cheaper option and design your life so that you don’t have to work as hard while your baby is still so young. At least have the heart to wait until your child hits elementary age and their brain has fully gotten its structure locked in, and THEN you can put inhumane demands on your child. Don’t do that to a baby. Also, my assistant and I would often sacrifice our lunch breaks to get the cleaning done before the kids woke up. Or staff were required to show up at 6:30 am every day. Which means we’re sleep deprived, too.

My sister is a medical assistant for Stanford Hospital. She has an AA degree. She doesn’t have to be there until 8am, and she makes like $28/hour. Meanwhile, I’m over here rolling up to work at 6:30 making less than $20/hour with my dumb master’s degree and all my student loan debt. Who do you think has more time to take care of herself?

11. Licensing rules? What rules? Licensing rules are enforced based on convenience for the school’s agenda. If only my job security didn’t depend on having a job (LOL), otherwise I would have loved to report so many employers to licensing. I’ve been left with 14 toddlers completely by myself habitually, I watched directors fake the licensing visit, unbeknownst to me unqualified aides were working with children by themselves only to have the director reveal the truth to me months later. I’ve had to lie to licensing agent’s faces. I’ve seen babies swaddled well past 3 months of age and put to sleep with multiple blankets over them. I’ve had rats in my classroom– you guys don’t even know.

12. If you try to be ethical or if they just don’t like you, you’re out. Don’t bother speaking up on behalf of the things you see going wrong. Because they’ll just fire you.

13. Just because Dr. Montessori was woke doesn’t mean the modern Montessori school in America is. The prejudice in 0-3 Montessori programs is unreal, y’all. Black Lives Don’t Matter in Montessori schools in many places. Teacher’s lives definitely don’t matter. And if you’re a dude working in 0-6, you probably WILL be discriminated against at some point.

I once worked at this school where the male staff wasn’t even allowed to roll up little girls’ pants to see if they scraped their knees, let alone toilet children. This guy was a father, but was still treated differently b/c he was a man working in 0-6. I once had this older, white assistant who would make these passive aggressive racist comments to me like “What’s your favorite color? me: turquoise, like the sea”. Her: My favorite color is brown. Chocolate brown”. Me in my head: uh… ok. I’ve literally never known anyone who says their favorite color is brown, and yes, I’m aware that I’m the only black teacher this school has ever hired in its 40+ year existence, all of which you have worked here for. Same staff person: my neighbor’s son was shot by the police the other day– and he wasn’t even black! — 😳 not even making this up.

14. There is a paradox for 0-3 Montessori programs of not actually needing trained experts to pull off their 0-3 Montessori business. This allows them to keep the guide in constant fear of being fired (or not having your contract renewed next year) and replaced by an untrained random with a cheaper salary. If you quit, they will immediately replace you with… anyone. Literally. They can fully fake Montessori 0-3 without an actual trained expert being in charge of the classroom; and no one has ever sued anyone for doing so. Literally nobody cares except the trained guides who get axed and replaced by an untrained random. Only once, in six years worth of classroom teaching for a number of different Montessori programs, did I take over for a pre-existing classroom that was actually ran by a fully-trained, 0-3 professional Montessori guide. 100% of the rest were “montess-sorta” classrooms that cost parents a lot of money and were ran by not-montessori-trained people.

15. Our entire career is actually all available for free right this very moment, thanks to Pinterest, Instagram, MontiKids, and Simone Davies’ book The Montessori Toddler. Literally what you’re paying thousands of dollars for via AMI training is all available for very affordable purchase, or for free, online, waiting and able to be imitated by anyone, right this very moment. So why should anyone pay for the expensive version of training if certain AMI 0-3 practitioners in our world have done a fantastic job of giving all the training away for far cheaper?

You can probably google “0-3 AMI training album PDF” and find it all. 0-3 training is not like primary (3-6) or elementary training where it’s so immense and unfamiliar, and the materials are so specialized and expensive that regular people can’t possibly copy it all. An untrained person walks into a 3-6 or elementary Montessori classroom, and you see boxes full of sliced up wooden triangles. And you think “uh… what is the kid supposed to do with these? God forbid the boxes spill or get mixed up, because you probably won’t even know how to put them back in order. Or you encounter boxes full of red, yellow, blue, and black cubes that, if spilled, you won’t know how to get back in the box. Or you will watch four year olds doing division and multiplication, and somehow getting all the answers correct using wooden boards and beads, and you will think “what the… how is this possible when I learned multiplication in first grade?”

0-3 Montessori education, in contrast, is literally meant for helping babies to learn the most basic things all humans deserve to know how to do. While it is utterly amazing to see a two year old sew with a needle and thread, or to make their own fresh squeezed orange juice from scratch, any adult can figure that stuff out. So if you have a brain, and some basic imitation skills, you can copy it. And teach it to any baby. Even if you are not trained for how to hand-make the materials, or to know the theory, and you’re not sitting around coloring in timelines and rehearsing oral exams so that you have the “why” behind the method drilled into your soul, you can very affordably buy whatever you can’t make yourself. Probably on Etsy. So just go find the cheapest MACTE accredited Montessori training you can find for primary or above, and read Simone Davie’s book. And you can essentially functionally Montessori toddler-train yourself. Thanks, Simone!

16. Montessori for 0-3 is still so obscure that no one really knows what it is anyway. Nevermind that it has existed for at least 40 years or more. Lesser known things are incredibly easy for businesses to fake. We have generic drugs, and knock-off fashion and generic cosmetics– why would Montessori be excluded? Unless you yourself are a 0-3 Montessori trained professional, you’ll just assume that any “montessori school” you walk into is doing “montessori”.

It’s like showing up to Balinese school; and everything in there is actually Sri Lankan. But you’ve never been to Bali in your life and know little to nothing about Balinese culture. So to the untrained eye, parents are like “sweet! This is all so unfamiliar, beautiful, and exotic-looking… it must surely be Balinese”.

Also, since literally no one except us trained guides know what Montessori for 0-3 actually is, literally nobody actually cares about your entire career as an AMI trained 0-3 Montessorian. Even if you’re the only trained 0-3 guide in your entire state. No one understands it, you’re still wiping butts for a living, and the fact that you spend 8 hours a day with babies makes you unrelatable to the rest of the population ….unless they’re parents of 0-3 year olds. And even then, they won’t wanna hear about your knowledge, because parents hate being told how to parent unless they actively seek out the help and information. Most parents chose their Montessori school based off of locational convenience, not because it was Montessori. I know parents that never even visited the school IRL and still chose it based on the location, and the website. And just for the record, directors are faking what they present on those websites. So you should always go visit a school in person before you shell out thousands of dollars.

Other parts of the inherent devaluation of 0-3 Montessori exist because ECE in general is not valued in America; and because people don’t regard babies and young children as fully human. So no one cares what they babies do all day. “Are they safe, are they healthy, and can someone watch them while I go to work? Great!”. That’s ALL most parents actually care about when seeking out 0-3 programs for their little ones. And if the babies end up coming out of this program somewhat smarter than their little peers whose parents didn’t choose Montessori, it’s like an unexpected bonus. Most parents don’t choose Montessori school programs in 0-3 because it’s Montessori.

So there you have it, folks. 15 facts every 0-3 AMI Montessori guide (and maybe parents) ought to know before embarking on a 0-3 AMI Classroom Guide career, or choosing a 0-3 Montessori program for your baby.

2 replies to “What it’s actually like pursuing a 0-3 Montessori classroom guide career when you’re AMI trained– should you do it?

  1. Thank you for such an illuminating piece on the perils of Montessori 0-3 work. It is so sad that work with the youngest, most impressionable children is so undervalued and subsequently underpaid in all areas of education globally ( I am in the UK).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment! I was nervous to create that post, TBH, because no one wants to talk about the dark sides of 0-3 Montessori classroom work realities. I have so many friends who have left the classroom or the field because there is so much hidden negativity; and Early Childhood Education in general particularly for the youngest is not valued at all in America. So you don’t get paid enough to make all the drama and problems truly worth tolerating; and you won’t get any legitimacy as a teacher b/c no one perceives children under 3 as “teachable”– the world still thinks it’s just daycare. And sadly for 0-3 Montessori, any random person can “fake” being the lead teacher of the classroom. The school still pulls in hundreds of thousands of dollars on that classroom, and it isn’t even led by a Montessori-trained professional. So that system will never change, sadly.

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