First, let me preface my response as someone who drank the Montessori Kool-aid, read many books and whose daughter starts tomorrow in Primary.
Originally Posted by Lashlock
I'm reading through threads and reading more and more as I've become an adult and a hopeful adoptive parent about Montessori. I went to a Montessori school as a child and adored the experience there, although honestly parts of it sound much closer to Waldorf as I continue to read.
We had yearly plays where we dressed up and even memorized lines. I have video's of our Holiday and Christmas Plays when I was young, around age 4-5. We were encouraged to make our own costumes. I can even remember the storyline and premise all these years later. I remember dressing as a rabbit for a play we did about bunnies but don't remember the story line. We dressed up and had playtime on a regular basis, and played out in the field like area, tended gardens, helped prepare meals daily.
We focused on our work and I remember being self directed but I don't remember much about being encouraged to not engage in fantasy. I remember tons of childhood make believe sessions and this really wasn't ever discouraged at school that I can remember. We were princesses and fairies and other ideas and were offered materials to do these kinds of make believe things as well. I don't know that we were allowed to use the pink tower for example for anything other than it' use, but we WERE allowed to do fantasy and had materials for fantasy play.
I just wonder how strict they actually were about Montessori methods in total (which feels like it was a good thing). I remember those years extremely fondly and full of play and childhood. I look at local places here for Montessori and feel stymied but Waldorf schools arent' our thing either. I had no trouble transitioning to public school and ended up skipping a grade and was still ahead of my peers subject wise but needed to stay in that grade and not go higher in order to socialize properly.
I am not sure I can homeschool for a long period of time and am hoping for a school that was similar to mine- except I'm not sure WHAT kind of method it truly was!
Interesting posts. I would suggest a different view - rather than children are not allowed/encouraged to have fun and use their imagination , but more that there is a time and place for everything and when the child is in class and learning specific skills, their job is to use the materials as planned - contrast polishing silver (I don't know if they do that any more), but is polishing silver being a butler planning for a grand ball (still imagination within context of material) as opposed to running around the room with a spoon as a space ship. Certain items have specific purposes and lessons (whether it be counting/math or finger-thumb dexterity to help be ready to learn to write), so counting beads are not strung together for necklaces or stacked to make houses. Floor mats are not piled up as tents or used as magic carpets.
My daughter starts tomorrow - and I am sure that there is much imagination in the playground - whether it be fairies and princesses, cowboys and Indians, aliens from Mars.
Her school does have after-hours curriculum including circus school where the children become clowns and practice for a live circus, storybook art - where an author-illustrator helps them make a shoebox bedroom or a noodle collage. There is also a theater club that will present "Annie" this year. This is the way they described it: "With many unforgettable roles, Annie is a funny and engaging
way for young people to participate in drama and dance instruction as well as experience the entire process of putting on a musical,
from auditions to the final performance in December."
Re: Not engage in fantsasy - and I'll ask my daughter's teacher about this example: If a child is doing life skills, like cleaning dishes or sweeping the floor, can they engage in fantasy associated with the activity as long as using the materials as intended (example, "pretend butler/maid polishing silver" vs. spacecraft flying around the room).
Your last statement makes perfect Montessori sense:
I don't know that we were allowed to use the pink tower for example for anything other than it's use, but we WERE allowed to do fantasy and had materials for fantasy play.
Pink tower has it's purpose - fantasy and imagination have their purpose. There were materials for fantasy play - maybe it was scarves or blocks or who knows what. I see these as entirely compatible. I'd suggest as you move closer to the period that you're enrolling a child, you start asking probing questions about how children are encouraged to use their imagination. I truly believe in the Montessori philosophy, but wouldn't send my daughter to a lousy school that claims to be "M". You be the judge.
Originally Posted by Kushali
I went to Montessori school as a child and my memories are similar to yours. We did school plays twice a year, usually based on fairy tales although we authored some of our own plays as well. I did a lot of creative writing and there was plenty of fantasy in that as well (unicorns, dragons, other imaginary places).
We played 'pretend' of many various forms during recess and it bled over into the classroom as well. If we had been playing restaurant someone might go back to class and make a menu using the movable alphabet. When we played olympics many kids went back to class and researched different olympic events we could include at the next recess, others made the flags of the countries they wanted to represent and looked up where they were on the map. Most of this was in elementary school but I know we did similar things (with less research and writing) in preschool as well.
I don't remember having dress up clothes but I do remember acting out stories during circle time. I remember being told not to harm the materials (no using the broad stairs for hammers) but I don't remember being told not to build a castle with the broad stair and put the knob less cylinders inside. Our teachers rarely initiated fantasy play and when we would ask if unicorns or dragons were real they'd tell us no (even at 3) but they didn't try to prevent us from fantasy either. And when we were exploring places far away or too big or small to see they'd encourage us to imagine what the Sahara desert or the planet mars might look like.
The school I attended also ran a Montessori training center so I like to think that my experience was at least somewhat common. The school was also affiliated with AMS not AMI which may also be part of it.
A consideration - did you do your creative writing during creative time? (using an extreme example, of course)
AMS and AMI are purportedly to be a bit different in terms of strict adherence. My daughter's school is AMS (40+ years)
If we had been playing restaurant someone might go back to class and make a menu using the movable alphabet.
Beautiful - As the materials were intended - to represent letters (not horses or spaceships). I would expect a Montessori teacher to encourage the children to continue with the theme of "restaurant" using the materials as intended.
When we played olympics many kids went back to class and researched different olympic events we could include at the next recess, others made the flags of the countries they wanted to represent and looked up where they were on the map.
This is so awesome - and to me this is ENTIRELY Montessori - you were using your imagination, child led activity, you used materials as intended. Perhaps, the stick was the Olympic flame (entirely within context), you researched and designed flags of the countries, you researched the maps. I'm just smiling at the whole thought of what you kids did using your imagination.
Note - these are all personal views as to how I do think Montessori can complement, even encourage imagination within the context. Check out your local schools, ask questions, use examples - by enrolling your child in Montessori, you should become an active partner in the education of your child.