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#1 of 20 Old 08-25-2011, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My almost 3-yr-old is starting Montessori in a few months, after her 3rd birthday. We're mostly very excited about the experience. DD has been doing a lot of imaginative play lately. Today we had a meeting the the teacher and I asked her what would happen if she was doing imaginative play with the materials and was told she would probably just be redirected, in a neutral way. Which makes sense, but the whole thing got me thinking about imagination and creativity. I love so much about Montessori, but I worry that it would damper her budding imagination. Any thoughts? Do Montessori children end up doing imaginative play at home just the same? Or do they end up decreasing it since it isn't noticed or acknowledged?


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#2 of 20 Old 08-26-2011, 11:56 AM
 
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My son is almost 2 so I'm not sure how it will be in another year.  At home he's very imaginative, but not in the sense of imagining invisible friends or anything.  He takes an object and turns it into something useful.  For example, he loves weedeaters and lawn equipment so he uses a hose wand as a weedeater and his pushcart as a mower.  I encourage it because I want to foster his interests but I can't give him his own real lawnmower KWIM?

 

Not using imagination and creativity is the one area of Montessori I don't fully agree with so I love that he gets a balance between school and home.  At school I don't think he has much of a chance to be creative/imaginative as he moves about the class room doing his work so at home I just follow his lead. 


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#3 of 20 Old 08-26-2011, 07:15 PM
 
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I'd like to hear from parents about this too.  My ds is 25 mo. and will be starting Montessori in 2 weeks.  I do worry some about the imagination being stymied by the program.  He is so very creative in how he uses things and some of the things he talks about.  Hopefully the toddler program will be flexible enough to allow for some of his creative play.


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#4 of 20 Old 08-27-2011, 12:50 PM
 
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My DS is 8 and has been in a private Montessori since he was 3. I think the kids get to be creative in different ways. They don't play kitchen, but even the two year olds are making and serving orange juice and slicing and passing out bananas to each other. They don't play "house" but they really do get to polish silverware and wash chairs (one of my son's favorite activities when he was in primary). There is just so much real stuff to do during the school day (real musical instruments, working in the garden, studying the frogs/birds/fish in class, folding napkins, chopping, sorting, singing, etc.) I don't think he missed pretending much. They did pretend on the playground. I don't think the adults need to be involved in setting up times and places for pretend play. I like the curriculum and feel it is very rich. There was plenty of time at home for pretend play. I read that at first Maria Montessori had "toys" in her classroom, but soon found that kids prefered the real to the imaginary. Having a real tea party was more fun and useful than a pretend one, for example. I think DS's teachers were very open to following the interest of the kids, so that if the kids are pretending to play dinosaur on the playground, they are studying fossils and the connection between birds and dinos in the classroom.

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#5 of 20 Old 08-28-2011, 06:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post

My DS is 8 and has been in a private Montessori since he was 3. I think the kids get to be creative in different ways. They don't play kitchen, but even the two year olds are making and serving orange juice and slicing and passing out bananas to each other. They don't play "house" but they really do get to polish silverware and wash chairs (one of my son's favorite activities when he was in primary). There is just so much real stuff to do during the school day (real musical instruments, working in the garden, studying the frogs/birds/fish in class, folding napkins, chopping, sorting, singing, etc.) I don't think he missed pretending much. They did pretend on the playground. I don't think the adults need to be involved in setting up times and places for pretend play. I like the curriculum and feel it is very rich. There was plenty of time at home for pretend play. I read that at first Maria Montessori had "toys" in her classroom, but soon found that kids prefered the real to the imaginary. Having a real tea party was more fun and useful than a pretend one, for example. I think DS's teachers were very open to following the interest of the kids, so that if the kids are pretending to play dinosaur on the playground, they are studying fossils and the connection between birds and dinos in the classroom.



Thank you for your post.  It reminded that creative play is a way of exploring and discover how things really work/are and that creative play can be lead to activities that help children learn more about their interests.


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#6 of 20 Old 09-02-2011, 12:46 PM
 
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If you have a Montessori child, you can still encourage Imaginative Play at home.  I started a thread a while back about combining Montessori school and Waldorf-inspired home.  I think the 2 philosophies can co-exist in different environments.  I don't see them coexisting well in same environment, but why not say:  "honey, we're home - now let's imagine".  Perhaps it could teach a child to make the best of 2 environments or philosophies.  Many people have one personality at home and one at work - both can complement within the same person.  Not to say that Montessori is "boring work", but it can be more task oriented.  Let that need for order be fulfilled, and consider the home as the place for magic and imagination.  Best of both worlds!

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#7 of 20 Old 09-06-2011, 04:36 PM
 
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I also think that adults sometime impose their idea of magic and imagination on children and have a vision of what it looks like-- knights, fairies, talking animals, etc. I think DS was always fasinated by the magic in real life-- water evaporating into steam, sponges sucking up water, yeast/flour/water turning into bread, music coming out of wooden things, eggs hatching, numbers adding up, tall towers falling, items floating and sinking, two colors making a third. . . . .he has always wanted to know what is real and how to do it himself. it isn't maybe a traditional view of "magic and imagination" but it is a part of magic that he found in Montessori.

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#8 of 20 Old 09-08-2011, 06:58 AM
 
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I also think that adults sometime impose their idea of magic and imagination on children and have a vision of what it looks like-- knights, fairies, talking animals, etc. I think DS was always fasinated by the magic in real life-- water evaporating into steam, sponges sucking up water, yeast/flour/water turning into bread, music coming out of wooden things, eggs hatching, numbers adding up, tall towers falling, items floating and sinking, two colors making a third. . . . .he has always wanted to know what is real and how to do it himself. it isn't maybe a traditional view of "magic and imagination" but it is a part of magic that he found in Montessori.

Yes! My dd's too. On occasion they play knights or something-  our house is full of play silks, dress clothes, etc- but they prefer real life magic :-)
 

 

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#9 of 20 Old 09-08-2011, 01:21 PM
 
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Interesting reading:  http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/04/05/the-montessori-mafia/

 

Aside from the fact that most parents who send their kids to Montessori care a great deal about their children's learning, I do think there is something to the method.  It was interesting to read the comments - and what struck me, how many Montessori students credit their PRESCHOOL with influencing the adult. 

 

Thought provoking!

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#10 of 20 Old 09-08-2011, 01:39 PM
 
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My DD is almost 3 and has been at a wonderful Montessori school for about 6 months. I'm not familiar with this Montessori principle of discouraging imaginative play. Can anyone explain it to me further?

 

Creativity & imagination are different, in my mind. Creativity can manifest in lots of ways and is not limited to using the imagination. I see imagination as just one facet of creativity. So it's not hard for me to imagine creativity flourishing even in an environment where imaginative play is absent.

 

What I'm curious about is the Montessori view on these things.

 

Thanks in advance for any further info/resources.


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#11 of 20 Old 09-08-2011, 04:46 PM
 
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I don't think Montessori DISCOURAGES imaginative play, per se as much as encourage to use the tool within the context. 

 

To use a basic example, if a child is washing a spoon, the purpose of the activity is to wash the spoon, not run around the room pretending the spoon is a space ship.  If a child were washing the spoon and trying to imagine that he/she is preparing for a grand party, I doubt that would be discouraged.  My daughter's primary class requests they bring placemats and parents alternate to bring flowers so they can eat their lunch with music, placemats and flowers.  I just learned today that they start the morning with a special song.  The elementary students were encouraged to contact local companies about composting and recycling when the topic came up (self-initiated).  I see all these examples as representative of self-responsibility and working within the environment and resources.

 

Creativity can manifest in many ways - it's not someone saying:  "OK, let's pretend we're bunnies and hop around the room" - children are more than free to participate, pretend as appropriate during free time.  I find that if I invite my daughter (3 yo) to help me pull weeds, she enjoys it just as much as pretending.

 

Re:  your comment about creativity, the director of my child's school sent us this link and I think it's pretty relevant - many Montessori children are "creative" with the tools that they have.

 

http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/04/05/the-montessori-mafia/

 

Is it better to invent Google as a search tool to address the problem of libraries searches or pretend one is a fairy princess?  Yes, extreme example, but I would encourage my daughter to be a princess during recess if she wants and apply herself (even washing a spoon) during class.

 


 

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Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

My DD is almost 3 and has been at a wonderful Montessori school for about 6 months. I'm not familiar with this Montessori principle of discouraging imaginative play. Can anyone explain it to me further?

 

Creativity & imagination are different, in my mind. Creativity can manifest in lots of ways and is not limited to using the imagination. I see imagination as just one facet of creativity. So it's not hard for me to imagine creativity flourishing even in an environment where imaginative play is absent.

 

What I'm curious about is the Montessori view on these things.

 

Thanks in advance for any further info/resources.



 

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#12 of 20 Old 09-08-2011, 04:51 PM
 
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Try Lilliards:  Montessori, the Science Behind the Genius - it's a fantastic book about the pedagogy and the results.  There are quite a few great books on Montessori, including those written by Maria Montessori, herself, albeit a bit more dry, but very inspiring.

 

It's not all about results - as I told my daughter's teacher today:  What is more gratifying and reinforcing than a naked 3 year old dancing in the hallway singing:  "I'm going to Montessori today".

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#13 of 20 Old 09-08-2011, 10:08 PM
 
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Well, for example a Montessori classroom doesn't have "toys." They don't have a dress up area or a play kitchen. You can't use the pink tower to make a castle.  Some people see this as discouraging creativity. Maria Montessori found that kids liked to really make tea, clean the room, and cook rather than pretend to do it.

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#14 of 20 Old 09-09-2011, 08:37 AM
 
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here's an example: we visited a traditional play-based preschool, affiliated with an excellent local university, very well-regarded. They had a station where the kids could fill up fake flower pots with fake dirt and plant fake plants. In my daughter's classroom, she is responsible for caring for real plants, washing their leaves, trimming them with real scissors, watering them. Which captured her attention longer? Yes, the real plant! No need to "pretend" to be a gardener, she really gets to be one!


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#15 of 20 Old 09-09-2011, 12:33 PM
 
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Love it - give me a garden over fake soil and a pretend flower.  My daughter spent last weekend digging in the holes where our chickens have their dust baths.  She came in FILTHY with a broad smile.

 

I honestly think that much of pretend is to simulate a real environment - planting flowers - why not get down and dirty vs. pretend flowers.  Why not wash dishes rather than play house.  Excluding some mythical things, I honestly think that children's imagination is about mimicking reality than trying to create an parallel or different reality.  I think we share the same reality, and it's up to us how we use the tools.

 

What is play house - doing household activities.  Is it better to have an invisible broom or a REAL broom cleaning up real dirt.

 

I just don't see children short-changed in doing age-appropriate activities according to their DECISION and WILL for the DURATION they choose within the CONTEXT of the PURPOSE of the activity.

 

The only thing missing is fairies and unicorns, right?  I still encourage that at home when drawing, reading stories.

 

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#16 of 20 Old 09-09-2011, 02:26 PM
 
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Thanks everyone, this makes a lot more sense to me now. Our DD is clearly flourishing at her Montessori school and is engaged in all kinds of creative activity, both at school and at home, so I have full trust in the program. It's just interesting to understand the approach and the reasons for that approach.

 

For her 2nd birthday, DD's grandpa gave her a toy kitchen which we have set up in our kitchen. And we thought that would be great because she'd "cook" alongside us. But she wants to really cook! Use real utensils, real food, etc. So we just help her participate in meal preparation in whatever way she can. She uses the toy kitchen for fantasy play...she puts her dolls to bed in the oven, uses the dishes as cars, plays with play dough on the counter top, etc. Now that I think of it, she uses most of her toys in ways they aren't "supposed" to be used. Sounds pretty creative to me!


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#17 of 20 Old 09-10-2011, 06:30 AM
 
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Awesome - sounds like a winning combination for your daughter.  I have found the same thing - Lindsey wants to be involved in making French Toast and other cooking in the kitchen.  I eventually gave her play kitchen away because she kept filling the mini sink with real water and getting clean dishes from dishwasher to pretend.  I moved the Learning Tower to the sink and she was happy as a lark where she can use the real sink and waist level with real water.

 

Play house, play school, play shopping - imagination is great and I've found that Lindsey has helped me be more mindful and enjoy basic tasks because we're doing it together.

 

I still love many of the Waldorf ideas, especially in the home environment.

 

Now as it's starting to get dark earlier, I'm going to start with the dinner by candlelight again, maybe accompany it with some music and story-telling - or maybe walks at dusk where we can walk around the neighborhood looking for fairies - one of her favorite books (ugh) - is Fairytopia, she has remembered all of the names and doesn't really want me to read it to her, she has her own narrative for each page (this is the fairy with no wings and she is sad, this is her best friend (what is her name again?), these are the mean ones, (what are they called?  Pixies) - it might be fun to go out at dusk and look for fairies and maybe put out a little plate of cookies or fruit for them.  She loves looking at the full moon - so many stories.  We'll probably set up a season table again, collecting things from outside.  Play-doh and clay and other art materials are so great for using imagination (I've seen some bizarre things over the past year or so).  We have 3 chickens in our yard and they cluck back and forth - I think next time they're especially vocal, I'll sit there with Lindsey and ask her to translate what she thinks they are saying to each other.

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#18 of 20 Old 09-19-2011, 08:20 AM
 
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I was really wondering about this as well.  DS is 4, and entering his second year at Montessori.  His first year was at a very strict AMI school (that unfortunately closed due to owners moving :( and no one taking it over ).  Anyway, I only had him there for mornings 5 days a week, but for the rest of the day (at home) I let him play however he wanted, and he has a very imaginative mind and continues to play with his toys, creating scenarios for his little people, putting them in the dollhouse, sending them on adventure.  He also loves to explore the yard, the house, and help me around the house.  He's recently created his own job, which is feeding the dogs, something that "he" does now.  So, I'm quite pleased, but I do not feel that it has stifled his creativity at all.  :) 


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#19 of 20 Old 09-24-2011, 07:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post

I also think that adults sometime impose their idea of magic and imagination on children and have a vision of what it looks like-- knights, fairies, talking animals, etc. I think DS was always fasinated by the magic in real life-- water evaporating into steam, sponges sucking up water, yeast/flour/water turning into bread, music coming out of wooden things, eggs hatching, numbers adding up, tall towers falling, items floating and sinking, two colors making a third. . . . .he has always wanted to know what is real and how to do it himself. it isn't maybe a traditional view of "magic and imagination" but it is a part of magic that he found in Montessori.



This.

 

A lot of little kid "fantasy" is really repeating narratives the adults have given them.

 

To expand...we're now Montessori grads - until my baby is old enough to start - but as someone who works in a creative field and writes fantasy, I have to say that most, if not all, imagination actually starts in the real. In order to share with other people - paint, write, talk about - fairies, for example, you have to have the concept of what wings might look like - butterfly wings, bat wings, etc. My son's time from 3-6 years old with a focus in the school mainly on the really REALLY cool real world has given him a great base for the kind of imaginary leaps he's now just starting to make. Any writer will tell you good description starts with detail, and even science fiction or fantasy detail has to be described in a way that we can all understand which means relying on our 5 senses to do it.

 

I do think part of respect for the child is following their lead, so I would shy away from a school that is too interfering in a child's moments of flights of fancy. But there is to my mind nothing wrong with making a casa-aged programme focus on glorious concrete reality.


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#20 of 20 Old 09-24-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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And, now that ds is in an elementary Montessori program (he's 8) they have started a lot more storytelling, myths, origin stories, fantasy writing, etc. The focus in the early years is on learning what is actually in the world. As GuideJen said, they use that later for imagination, creation, etc.

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