Are Montessori Schools Free?

Montessori is a style of teaching developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori in 1907. The school’s education system focuses on how children learn naturally. It aims to enhance their natural interests through activities instead of using formal teaching methods, but this method can be expensive.

Montessori schools are typically private schools that charge a tuition fee. However, because Montessori is a type of teaching style and not solely a string of private schools, there are plenty of free resources, education models, and other schools that follow Montessori ideas.

If there are so many costly private schools that follow Montessori teachings, how do you decide what to spend your money on, and what you can get for free? Keep reading for some Montessori teachings and resources with their average prices.

Montessori Schools

Montessori schools are more often than not private schools that charge a tuition fee to attend. There are a few Montessori schools that do not come with fees, however. The average annual cost of these private schools is between $12,000 and $15,000 depending on the age of the student, as well as the style of the program.

This also depends on the state you live in. In states where the cost of living is very high, such as California, tuition is $13k to $14k per year. However, New York has an even higher tuition cost for Montessori schools. The tuition in New York sits between $28k and $35k. Southern states like Arkansas and Mississippi cost only $7k annually.

Montessori offers multiple types of programs that can change the cost of tuition. Half-day styles of teaching will obviously cost less than full days at the school. However, there are also some Montessori public schools in different places! If you are wanting to enroll your student in a Montessori school, weigh how much money you have to spend and the opportunities your student will receive from public versus private school. It all depends on your budget and desire when it comes to deciding between public and private.

However, there are great options that cost no money at all! Let us explore some of these methods and resources.

Montessori Resources

There are plenty of Maria Montessori lessons published online for free for the public. These are great resources that can help you get started on your Montessori journey even on a tight budget. As stated before, it is possible there is a Montessori Public School near you, so check out what is offered around you and see if you are lucky! If not, don’t worry. There are great options for those unable to find an institution suited for them.

Niche is a site that lists some of the top Montessori Public Schools in each state. You might be able to find one near you!

The Montessori Notebook also provides many free downloadable lessons for you to use for your child. A great option is to supplement some lessons your child learns in regular school with lessons such as these. It makes a good balance of formative learning in a structured setting, as well as individualized learning in the home. This can be greatly beneficial for your child in many ways.

Some people choose to alternate years between public school and homeschooling using the Montessori method. This can help your child adjust to different lifestyles, decide what is best for themselves, and become more social, all while truly catering to their needs.

Montessori Homeschooling

Montessori homeschooling is a great option as well. Often you will have to pay for at least some of the materials needed to teach your child at home, but these will cost much less than annual tuition might for your child in your state. Some great resources come from unlikely sources. Often, homeschooling parents will rigorously study the teachings of Maria Montessori and make their own lessons, plans, and materials for their children.

Maria Montessori did not have access to websites selling the materials she was looking for when she created her teaching method. She instead had to make them herself. Many homeschooling parents do this as well, saving money as well as connecting with their child through the personalized nature of the materials. This can be greatly beneficial for your children and can truly kick off their Montessori learning well.

Montessori Materials

Montessori toys (called “materials”) are often made of wood or other sustainable materials. They are designed to work your child’s brain to hone problem-solving as well as other important instincts. Montessori toys are intended for children who need to develop specific skills and are used until the child masters that skill. They are then replaced with a toy that challenges the next level of skill, and this continues as the child grows. Through this method, it is possible for your child to grow on their own and at their own pace. This is because you do not dedicate a specific time to one material, but instead let your child decide when to play and develop.

Many of these materials are quite expensive. If you do not have the ability or opportunity to create your own, then purchasing them will be a decent amount of money. However, it will still be less expensive than enrolling your child in a private school.

While Montessori toys can be very helpful for the development of your child, they are not necessarily all Montessori aligned. Montessori is not a trademarked name, so it is impossible to know whether or not a toy actually aligns with the Montessori teaching values. We emailed the American Montessori Society to ask about Montessori toys. Here was their response:

“The American Montessori Society does not recommend people buy Montessori toys. You are correct in saying that, because the name is not trademarked, anyone can call a toy Montessori without regard to its quality and without awareness as to whether it meets the standards and goals of Montessori education.”

Liz Buechele, Communication & Development Manager of the American Montessori Society

They also went on to state that Montessori teachings do not call any of their tools “toys” but instead “materials” as they are intentionally designed to enhance learning. This shows that even though many mainstream sources will tell you to buy Montessori toys, it is not necessary for you to spend your money on such things.