Authentic Montessori daycares

Does anyone have any recommendations for an authentic Montessori daycare in the east bay area? Since “Montessori” is not a trademarked name, it’s hard to tell the difference between what is authentic or not.

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Nia House Learning Center in South Berkeley is an excellent Montessori School. The waitlist is long, so if you are interested you should sign up ASAP.  (

Another great Montessori is Grand Lake Montessori in Oakland (

We have been having a very positive experience at Grand Lake Montessori (which accept toddlers beginning at 18 months). They do things like shelf work, early potty training/routine support, practical life activities, generally following the child, etc. I"m not sure what you are trying to get at it with the word "authentic". I think the teachers are well trained in Montessori philosophy, but i also appreciate that they are not overly extreme or dogmatic. E.g. i have heard of montessori programs that make young toddlers nap in underwear and then continuously have accidents so parents need to wash things every day. Or that chastise parents who send food in containers that despite being simpler to open, their toddler is not able to open. I have not had experiences like this at GLM which i appreciate. 


Truly authentic Montessori schools are Association Montessori International (AMI) members. This organization was created my Maria Montessori and is the truest to her pedagogy and philosophy. To be a recognized AMI school it takes rigorous oversight by AMI to approve it. Many schools don’t bother because it is expensive and time consuming but they still have quality AMI guides.

Check the AMI website for their standards and for a directory of schools. This is the gold standard. 

However, any Montessori school may have AMI certified guides, assistants, and aides. Some schools are American Montessori Society (AMS) which is a less strict version and modernized form of Montessorian principles. 

Authenticity doesn’t really matter because it’s more important to find the right program for your child - there is value in any spectrum of Montessori. But it is frustrating when people use Montessori as a buzzword to get people interested.

P.S. “Authentic” Montessori schools will never be referred to as “daycare”. Teachers are called guides. All the language is intentionally specific. 

I am a certified AMI guide in the area. Please message me if you have more questions. 

Look for schools/daycares where lead teachers have Montessori credentials through AMS, AMI, MACTE. We love Oceanview Montessori. They are not super traditional Montessori but have a lot of aspects woven in and leads are fully trained. 

Our son has attended Little Elephant Montessori in Berkeley for the past two years and we love it. Natanya, the owner, has decades of serious Montessori training and experience (as do the teachers) and takes the method very seriously. But it's also a fun, relaxed environment for kids. Couldn't recommend it more highly! There's also a location in Rockridge.