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Son doesn't like "work" of Montessori - Page 2

post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
I think that the main issue is that adults get up in arms about the word "work." Montessori considered play to be a child's job, and something so important for a child's grown and development that she wanted to value it by calling it work. But most people consider "work" to be something awful that they don't want to do, so when you have 3 year olds and "work" in the same sentence, people seem to think that there's some adult standing over the poor toddler with a cattleprod making them do worksheets. It comes up again and again on this board, and it's starting to wear a little thin, honestly.
Seriously.

I take the OP's concern seriously but I totally don't get the "my kid hated Montessori but loves play" because (and maybe this is our school, or us) a lot of the works were exactly what we were doing at home, just more intelligently in their design (not in my son's response).
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
Seriously.

I take the OP's concern seriously but I totally don't get the "my kid hated Montessori but loves play" because (and maybe this is our school, or us) a lot of the works were exactly what we were doing at home, just more intelligently in their design (not in my son's response).
Very true. When I first started reading about Montessori work, I was really surprised at how many of the works I recognized as being standard toys. Stacking blocks, dressing frames, lacing cards, matching games, puzzles. Most kids find these sorts of things fun, or else they wouldn't be available in every toy store.

I think adults tend to have a very, very narrow view at what "work" and "play" are, and are dubious that the two can cross over. When I was researching Waldorf I was really shocked at how narrowly they define play. If it doesn't involve a gnome or a fairy, your kid's doing it wrong. It's easy to view Montessori in a similar light, thinking that "work" must mean some horrible task no one would ever want to do. One of the reasons we went with Montessori was because I want my daughter to learn that you can derive joy and pleasure from all sorts of seemingly mundane tasks. I think there's an underlying idea that you get out of a task what you put into it that will serve her well in life.
post #23 of 33
But I didn't see play in my DD's classroom. Play often has a pretend or imaginative quality, doesn't it? Are we just sweeping a room, or are we sweeping the high tower of a castle? In my experience for a year at DD's AMI certified school, there was no imaginative play encouraged or sadly even tolerated. I did not see a sliver of imaginative opportunity in the primary classroom. For me that is a big difference. In my light reading on the subject, play and use of materials in creative ways is very important in cognitive development. And school is an opportunity to learn not in a vaccuum but with other exploring and playing and creating kids.
post #24 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by squimp View Post
But I didn't see play in my DD's classroom. Play often has a pretend or imaginative quality, doesn't it? Are we just sweeping a room, or are we sweeping the high tower of a castle? In my experience for a year at DD's AMI certified school, there was no imaginative play encouraged or sadly even tolerated. I did not see a sliver of imaginative opportunity in the primary classroom. For me that is a big difference. In my light reading on the subject, play and use of materials in creative ways is very important in cognitive development. And school is an opportunity to learn not in a vaccuum but with other exploring and playing and creating kids.
But why can't it just be a room? Why can't a child just learn to derive joy from a simple task, from a job well done? Why must castles and fairies and gnomes come into it? Forcing a child to live in a world of make believe, like Waldorf does (and yes, I absolutely do believe that they do... whether the child wants it or not), does them absolutely no favors in later life, IME and IMO. Again, Montessori preschool is only 3 hours long. They have the other 9 hours of the day to pretend.

And no, I don't think that play requires make-believe. Some of my daughter's play involves make believe, and some of it just involves tasks that amuse her. She loves stringing her chunky beads on a string, she loves sewing with yarn on plastic canvas, she loves lining things up and stacking things. Are these things not good for her cognitive development?
post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by squimp View Post
But I didn't see play in my DD's classroom. Play often has a pretend or imaginative quality, doesn't it? Are we just sweeping a room, or are we sweeping the high tower of a castle? In my experience for a year at DD's AMI certified school, there was no imaginative play encouraged or sadly even tolerated. I did not see a sliver of imaginative opportunity in the primary classroom. For me that is a big difference. In my light reading on the subject, play and use of materials in creative ways is very important in cognitive development. And school is an opportunity to learn not in a vaccuum but with other exploring and playing and creating kids.
This got long but I felt strongly about it. I should preface my experience by saying that I'm a fiction (fantasy) writer and that our home houses fairies. So I am by no means opposed to imaginary or otherworldly stuff.

I can't really speak to "intolerance" because at my son's Montessori there's no question of tolerance. If A CHILD wants to pretend that the sweeping is in a castle, that's fine. I'm not really sure how that could be controlled. But I'm sure there are schools that do actively discourage it...ours doesn't though.

But the ADULTS don't decorate the room as if it were a castle in a Montessori. There's a huge difference there. I kind of think it's funny when adults lay out how the fantasy world works ("oh look, if you're a prince, then I'm an evil witch") and then congratulate themselves that their kids are being imaginative.

There is a huge difference between play, imagination, and fantasy play, and what I term "genre fantasy". Imagination can be focused very much on real things - just think inventors. Fantasy play, meaning roleplaying and so on, is definitely important in childhood; there's some evidence that this is how children develop executive control.

But there is no evidence of which I'm aware that fantasy play in the sense of magical beings that don't really exist is critical to development.

In other words, your kid can pretend he is a dragon, a dinosaur, or a frog, and the results will be the same.

How it works at my son's Montessori is that real life, so to speak, is primary and considered interesting. So they don't do a unit on fairies but they do do a unit on butterflies. The kids learn all about the life cycle of the butterfly, the parts of the butterfly, and so on.

From my observation, this actually leads my son to richer and more developed fantasies, because he has so much to work with - not just more vocabulary and information, but because they have gone outside and looked for butterflies, looked at the flowers that attract them, and watched a caterpillar in a jar form a chrysalis. He has a deep knowledge to bring to the table.

Then yes, he has a strong tendency to play butterflies. (Now. When he was 3, he didn't.) But when he makes that leap, it's all him - it's not adults leading the way. Because of how our schoolday works, he hangs out with the other kids in aftercare from 3:30 - 5, so if there's group play that looks more traditional, that's when it happens. But he also works in small groups during the Montessori time. So I can't really speak to the lack of group work thing - for us it was really important that he not be forced into group rhythms, so that's sort of not on my radar.

And from my professional experience I have to say that most strong imaginary stuff is pretty firmly grounded in a deep understanding of reality. You cannot describe a fantasy world if you can't make a connection for the reader through the senses, physics, biology, and so on. Look at Avatar - to bring that kind of experience to the screen, the people doing the special effects totally had to understand mass and bio luminescence and be able to create the algorithms and so on and so forth. I know I'm a bit on a rant here but I think people so badly misunderstand ecreativity and imagination because our culture seems to believe that anything "not real" is imagination. It's not. It may be imaginary, but a child simply playing castle because it's a castle unit is not necessarily bringing a lot of self to the table.
post #26 of 33
The director of our M school told me the same thing - that kids don't have the knowledge base to have imaginative play until they're in the older classes (6-8 year old). I have to just firmly disagree and I should have listened to my instincts. I'm not necessarily talking about gnomes and dragons, but what about mommies and babies or teddy bears or frogs? That is still pretend, and kids were pointed away from this in our AMI primary classroom. There's nothing wrong with enjoying sweeping, that is not my issue. The play I've read about is manipulative play (from Einstein didn't have flash cards) - being allowed to play with materials. To use them in ways you think of yourself, not in ways prescribed. Why does it HAVE to be a room? To sweep without ever having the the opportunity to pretend that the broom is also a horse is my concern. As long as no one is being disturbed, what is wrong with that? That is the intolerance that bothered me.

I agree that focusing on the information is good, but I think it's better in the older classes - my 3-year-old needed to manipulate and pretend as much or more than to learn about butterflies. Luckily we found a place where she could do both.
post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by squimp View Post
The director of our M school told me the same thing - that kids don't have the knowledge base to have imaginative play until they're in the older classes (6-8 year old). I have to just firmly disagree and I should have listened to my instincts. I'm not necessarily talking about gnomes and dragons, but what about mommies and babies or teddy bears or frogs? That is still pretend, and kids were pointed away from this in our AMI primary classroom. There's nothing wrong with enjoying sweeping, that is not my issue. The play I've read about is manipulative play (from Einstein didn't have flash cards) - being allowed to play with materials. To use them in ways you think of yourself, not in ways prescribed. Why does it HAVE to be a room? To sweep without ever having the the opportunity to pretend that the broom is also a horse is my concern. As long as no one is being disturbed, what is wrong with that? That is the intolerance that bothered me.

I agree that focusing on the information is good, but I think it's better in the older classes - my 3-year-old needed to manipulate and pretend as much or more than to learn about butterflies. Luckily we found a place where she could do both.
Well our classroom isn't so intolerant. I'd've moved my child too.

But I'm still very surprised to hear anyone describe a Montessori as lacking in manipulation of objects. Our Montessori is /all/ objects, and kids can use them imaginatively - it's just that they also are presented with the 'right' way if they want to know. My son does, in fact, want to know - and always has, starting at home as a very young toddler.
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
Well our classroom isn't so intolerant. I'd've moved my child too.

But I'm still very surprised to hear anyone describe a Montessori as lacking in manipulation of objects. Our Montessori is /all/ objects, and kids can use them imaginatively - it's just that they also are presented with the 'right' way if they want to know. My son does, in fact, want to know - and always has, starting at home as a very young toddler.
Ditto to all this. Anyone who thinks that kids can't imaginatively play until they're 8 shouldn't be in charge of young children. But I do agree that kids need a basis in reality before they can break into an imaginative world.

And I'm also kind of shocked to hear someone say that Montessori doesn't have enough "manipulative play." It's pretty much entirely manipulative play. I read Einstein too, and I think exactly what that book is talking about is what Montessori provides.
post #29 of 33
I'll also add that the only reference in the index for "manipulating objects" in Einstein Never Used Flashcards is "According to numerous research studies, however, the very best way to learn about numbers is to manipulate objects. Adding blocks on top of the stack to see how many you can pile up before it falls is Mathematics. And playing a game of cards like War is math at its best."

Sounds an awful lot like the Pink Tower, and I'm pretty sure one of the Montessori card games that older kids play is War.
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by squimp View Post
The director of our M school told me the same thing - that kids don't have the knowledge base to have imaginative play until they're in the older classes (6-8 year old). I have to just firmly disagree and I should have listened to my instincts. I'm not necessarily talking about gnomes and dragons, but what about mommies and babies or teddy bears or frogs? That is still pretend, and kids were pointed away from this in our AMI primary classroom. .


I could see a school saying that that sort of play could be done at home and that school time should be reserved for the activities that work better with the school's materials, but saying that kids don't understand it at all until 6-8??

Follow the child, director-man!

Real: hitting a pot makes a noise like a drum
Pretend: Stirring in the empty pot and lifting the spoon up to sip.

Guess which one my 17 month old did on her own after I showed her she could bang on the pot to make noise? Yeah, set the pots down for her, hit them a few times with a spoon, handed her the spoon. Left the room and came back to both pots right side up on a low table and her busily stirring away.
post #31 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by squimp View Post
The director of our M school told me the same thing - that kids don't have the knowledge base to have imaginative play until they're in the older classes (6-8 year old).
That is very scary - that someone actually believes that. I see small children doing imaginative play all the time.
post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post
I'll also add that the only reference in the index for "manipulating objects" in Einstein Never Used Flashcards is "According to numerous research studies, however, the very best way to learn about numbers is to manipulate objects. Adding blocks on top of the stack to see how many you can pile up before it falls is Mathematics. And playing a game of cards like War is math at its best."

Sounds an awful lot like the Pink Tower, and I'm pretty sure one of the Montessori card games that older kids play is War.
I don't own the book at home but I distinctly remember reading a passage describing an experiment where the kids who were allowed to play with certain test materials did better on the test than those who were simply shown the materials or given the materials to hold, but were not to play with them. It was a puzzle or something. And the kids didn't play with them in any way like the test, they just played baseball or something. That really stuck with me. But I like experiments.

I think the pink tower was the only manipulative DD liked - simple and intuitive. But she had to put it together in a certain way, right? The classroom was stifling and boring for her - she had to be given a lesson on the proper way to use materials and was constantly corrected or discouraged when she did not use the materials as in the lesson. I'm sure some of it was the teacher, but other kids and parents really liked it there. It was just such a bad fit for us as an educational setting, we did leave.
post #33 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Real: hitting a pot makes a noise like a drum
Pretend: Stirring in the empty pot and lifting the spoon up to sip.
I'm no expert so I could be mistaken, but my understanding is that stirring the empty pot and sipping from an empty spoon is less pretend, and more mimicking a real activity - cooking dinner. In this case, the child is showing a desire to cook and should be instructed to do so with real food, etc.

I'm not saying that I believe a child cannot engage in pretend play until age 8, but just that this is my understanding of early "imaginative" play.
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