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HMEI Early Childhood Education Course Structure

The HMEI Early Childhood Education Course provides comprehensive preparation for adults interested in working with children ages 2½ through 6 years in multi-age groupings, using the Montessori Method. The Early Childhood Education Course is designed as an undergraduate level course which prepares and transforms adult students into Montessori educators. This is a certificate course, approximately twelve months in duration, with discrete Periods of Study designed to run consecutively and without interruption. In addition to the Periods of Study, three Advanced Seminars are required for Certification. The HMEI Early Childhood Education Course consists of six components and is structured as follows:

Period I Online Orientation Period Self-paced, Varied Clock Hours (est. 15-20 hours)
Period II Summer Academic Period 312 Academic Clock Hours
Period III Student Teaching Practicum Period 540 Practicum Clock Hours
 Practicum Phase  Online Learning Sessions 40 Academic Clock Hours
Practicum Phase Weekend Seminar – Fall 28 Academic Clock Hours
Practicum Phase Weekend Seminar – Winter 28 Academic Clock Hours
Practicum Phase Weekend Seminar – Spring 28 Academic Clock Hours

Total Minimum Academic Clock Hours Required for HMEI Certification – 436 (AMS min = 300)
Total Minimum Practicum Clock Hours Required for HMEI Certification – 540 (AMS min = 540)

Period I-Online Orientation Period (Academic Clock Hours as needed for completion)

The Online Orientation Period is designed to provide students an opportunity to prepare themselves for the teacher education experience at HMEI. One of the objectives of Period I is to ensure that all adult learners arrive at HMEI having read and studied the same introductory material and having had the same important pre-requisite experiences. Period I establishes a baseline for the incoming class and it provides our adult learners a skeletal framework for understanding Montessori theory and philosophy, upon which they may build.

Standards for Completion for Period I

Standards for completion include the study of required readings; one 2-3 hour classroom observation; participation in any scheduled pre-Academic Period conferences, meetings, or journaling assignments.

Period II-Summer Academic Period (8 weeks) (312 Academic Clock Hours)

The Summer Academic Period is a rigorous, full-time, classroom intensive which involves an in-depth examination of essential core curriculum and supporting curriculum areas that will prepare our adult learners for teaching in a Montessori classroom and enable them to earn an AMS Early Childhood Course credential. This period of study includes lectures, demonstrations, discussions, workshops, and practice sessions. Adult learners will develop detailed manuals of lesson plans in each curriculum area, practice individual lesson presentations using appropriate learning materials, and will design and create Montessori materials for classroom use. This is a demanding and highly rewarding segment of the HMEI Early Childhood Course.

Course components include the following:

  • Child Development and Psychology
  • Art, Music and Movement Education
  • Montessori Philosophy and Theory
  • Physical and Life Science Education
  • Art & Science of Observation
  • Social Studies / Cultural Education
  • Practical Life Education
  • Classroom Leadership
  • Sensorial Education
  • Parent-Educator Partnership
  • Mathematics Education
  • Technology and Education
  • Language Education
  • Professional Development

Standards of Completion for Period II

Successful completion of Period II includes attendance at 90% of lectures and demonstrations; active participation in discussions and practice sessions; development of classroom materials as required; and completion of curriculum albums. Attendance and participation are required. Missed sessions may be made up with the approval of the Academic Director.

Period III-Student Teaching Practicum Period (9 months) (540 Practicum Clock Hours)

The Student Teaching Practicum provides adult learners a real-world experience under the direct supervision of a qualified Montessori educator at a qualified and accredited Montessori school. The Student Teaching Practicum is a key component of the adult learner's preparation to be a teacher. Although distinct from the Academic Content Period, it is infused with academics and their real-life application with classes and students. The Practicum Period serves as an opportunity for adult learners to develop and refine the craft of teaching. The Student Teaching Practicum Period may take one of two forms:

  • Supervised Practicum
    The practicum candidate is typically employed by or paid a stipend by the practicum site and works in the capacity of Assistant to an experienced and certified Montessori teacher.

  • Self-Directed Practicum
    The self-directed practicum is not recommended and must be approved in advance by HMEI. Self-directed practicum candidates are typically employed by or paid a stipend by the practicum site, where the candidate serves as Lead Teacher. Although a Montessori Educator is not physically present in the classroom every day, regular access to, and conference with, an experienced and certified Montessori teacher who is identified and designated as the Practicum Cooperating Teacher is required for HMEI approval. Special requirements are enforced in order for a self-directed practicum to be approved by HMEI, including at least one of the following:

    • Prior experience as an Assistant in a Montessori environment
    • Two or more years of previous teaching experience at the early childhood level
    • A qualified supervising teacher is not available
    • The written approval of the HMEI Academic Director

Field Consultant Visits

Three on-site evaluation visits by Field Consultants will be required for candidates engaged in a Supervised Practicum. Three or more on-site evaluation visits will be required for those involved in a Self-Directed Practicum.

School Observation Visits

All practicum candidates are required to participate in 20 hours of observation during the course of the Practicum.

Policy for Entering Practicum

Adult learners must begin the practicum within two years of completing Period II - Academic Phase. Adult learners may not begin the practicum before the beginning of Period II - Academic Phase. 

Standards of Completion for Period III

The student teaching practicum site, as well as the supervising teacher, must be approved in advance by HMEI. American Montessori Society affiliated schools are strongly preferred as practicum sites. No part of the practicum may precede the completion of the academic phase of the Early Childhood Education Course. Successful completion includes attendance and participation in all aspects of the Practicum Period, including School Observation visits; a passing grade on the Satisfaction of Practicum Requirements Report by the supervising Montessori teacher; and a passing grade on all Practicum Evaluation Visit Reports by the designated Field Consultant.

Practicum Phase Online Learning Sessions (40 Academic Clock Hours)

The Practicum Phase Online Learning Sessions are designed to support adult learners during their practicum. Classes will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6pm-8pm CT via the Zoom platform. Most of these sessions will be synchronous with some asynchronous elements to enhance learning. Sessions will include lecture, small group discussion, large group discussion, reflection time, and presentations.

Practicum Phase Weekend Seminars (84 Academic Clock Hours)

Adult learners will participate in three extended-weekend seminars (Thursday through Sunday) – Fall, Winter, and Spring – during the Student Teaching Practicum Period. The seminars are imbedded into the Practicum Phase as a strategy for providing adult learners with opportunity to focus on relevant topics and issues. This is designed to enhance the Student Teaching Practicum experience. Seminars will include lectures, workshops, demonstrations, practice sessions, and performance assessments specifically intended to extend the learning and comprehension acquired during Period II.

Fall Weekend Seminar (28 Clock Hours)
Winter Weekend Seminar (28 Clock Hours)
Spring Weekend Seminar (28 Clock Hours)

Standards of Completion for the Weekend Seminars
Successful completion of the Weekend Seminars includes attendance and participation in Fall, Winter, and Spring sessions.