Montessori Institute of America (MIA) is a not-for-profit international organization dedicated to advancing Montessori Education in accordance with MIA’s Vision and Mission Statement. MIA sets standards and procedures to be followed by MIA certified Teacher Education Programs throughout the world. MIA awards Teacher certification to adults who have completed the approved training and practicum.


In addition to the educational focus on the intellectual, physical and social aspects of a child, Montessori Institute of America recognizes the importance of Dr. Montessori’s use of the term “spiritual”, when referring to the development of the child. MIA believes nurturing the spirit of the child is an important part of a curriculum. MIA is non-denominational.


MIA is a founding affiliate of the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE), an international accrediting agency for Montessori teacher education institutions and programs.


Vision Statement

Our Vision is of a world where every child can reach their full potential.

Mission Statement

MIA empowers adults throughout the world to inspire lifelong success through Montessori Education.

MIA Code of Ethics

MIA requires that member schools and Teacher Education Programs (TEP) consent to follow the MIA Code of Ethics. MIA relies on self-compliance of this Code.


In consenting to follow the MIA Code of Ethics, program directors, administrators, and heads of schools agree to encourage their educators and faculty to strive to: conduct themselves in ways that reflect respect to those around them, both professionally and personally; and to do whatever is within their capabilities to protect the right of each child and Adult Learner to have the freedom and opportunity to develop to their full physical, intellectual, and spiritual potential.


MIA is an international organization made up of individual members and organizational members. MIA was founded in the U.S.A. in 1972.

Our individual members  are parents, teachers, directors, trainers and others interested in promoting Montessori education.  Our organizational members are Teacher Education Programs. All members have voting rights in annual election. Members come from around the world.  

The organization is overseen by an elected  Board of Trustees. Continuing attention to ongoing affairs and concerns is carried out by the Executive Committee (MIA Board Officers) and the chairs of committees. Attention to MIA’s goals and financial affairs is carried out by the full Board of Trustees.


In 2018 MIA developed a Code of Ethics. MIA Code of Ethics serves as a public statement of what this organization stands for, its commitment to a standard of conduct, and that it is committed to doing business responsibly.


MIA was founded in the 1960’s as Mid-America Montessori Teacher Preparation Center by Dr. Helen K. Billings. Through her dynamic energy and speaking ability, this organization became the largest Montessori training program in Missouri and Kansas. In 1972 this organization became Montessori Institute of America.


From 1972 to 2014, MIA began expanding to include schools from around the world. In 2014, MIA reorganized to reflect its place as an international organization. With the demand for qualified Montessori teachers growing, the MIA endeavors to meet those demands by training teachers and assisting them to find teaching positions in schools worldwide. Although MIA’s headquarters is in the United States, our training programs reach out and support the international Montessori community.


In 2014, MIA reorganized to better reflect its inclusion of the global community.  While our history is reflected in our name, MIA now has affiliated Teacher Education Programs in China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.


Dr. Helen K. Billings, MIA’s founder, was born in Missouri in 1901. By 1940, she and her husband William Billings were located in Kansas City, Kansas and Helen was a High School teacher. For many years she was involved with both elementary and high schools in the area.


After the death of her husband in 1959, she traveled to Europe. Following her participation in a Montessori teacher education program in Italy in 1960, she returned to the United States and worked at Highlawn Montessori School in Kansas City. In 1969, she founded Mid-America Montessori Teacher Education Center in Kansas City and actively encouraged others to adopt the Montessori philosophy in their work as educators. She became an inspiring leader in the field of Montessori education. In 1972, this organization became Montessori Institute of America and began expansion across the USA and internationally.


The Helen K. Billings Scholarship Fund was founded to offer financial assistance in the achievement of MIA’s purpose as stated in the MIA Bylaws: “…to foster and encourage the Montessori Method of Teaching throughout the world with particular emphasis on the training and certifying of Montessori teachers…”


child development stages


Birth to Six Years (First Plane of Development)

From birth to about age six, children are naturally eager to learn from their environment without any conscious effort. It is very easy for children to acquire certain abilities during these periods of sensitivity. During this time the child is full of enthusiasm and learning these skills is easy. Concentration on a particular activity during these ‘sensitive periods’ leads to the development of a skill.

“When a particular sensitiveness is aroused in a child, it is like a light that shines on some objects but not others, making of them his whole world … Man’s intelligence does not come from nothing; rather, it is built upon the foundations laid by the child during his sensitive periods.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Language acquisition is a main component of the first plane child.

6 to 12 Years (Second Plane of Development)

Children of 6 to 12 years have passed beyond the sensitive periods. Children’s minds are now transitioning from the concrete awareness of the sensitive periods into the abstract, logical mind. There is a great need to understand moral and social behavior.

"We might say that the younger children take in things sensorially. The child of seven enters the abstract field, he wishes to know reasons . . . one of the things which preoccupies these children is what is ethical in life: what is good, what is bad." – Maria Montessori, Four Planes of Education

Also, these children have an interest in math, science, geography and history. They are ready to build on that earlier foundation and to delve deeper into any subject of interest.

“Everything invented by man, physical or mental, is the fruit of someone’s imagination. In the study of history and geography we are helpless without imagination, and when we propose to introduce the universe to the child, what but imagination can be of use to us? … These subjects must be presented so as to touch the imagination of the child, and make him enthusiastic, and they add fuel to the burning fire that has been lit.” – Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential