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Discussion Starter #1
<p>Ok. I went to a Montessori preschool and LOVED it. We are looking at preschools for DD next year (when she will be 3.5) and my starting point was Montessori. DH and I went to our first open house at a Montessori school here and it turns out that, while I loved it (walked into the space and was enchanted, so lovely and organized and appealing, really liked what the teachers said for the most part),  DH pretty much hated it. He didn't like: a) how often the name Montessori was invoked, said it felt "cultish" and b) was really bothered by a couple of comments the teachers made about how kids "don't have fantasies." Which I interpreted to mean simply that kids didn't always distinguish between fantasy and reality, but that DH basically interpreted to mean that the school wouldn't encourage any self-expression and might in fact suppress it.</p>
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<p>I was totally blindsided by his attitude because usually we are on the same page about things and I was pretty distressed. Based on my observations of DD (and my own personal bias of course) I think she would thrive in Montessori. She would so benefit from building her concentration and loves to quietly explore things already (when she's in the mood.)</p>
<p> </p>
<p>So, here are my questions for you wise ladies:</p>
<p>1) I was totally unaware of any controversy involving Montessori and pretend play until this happened--didn't even think about it because I remembered Montessori with such delight. How can I resolve this concern for DH? My feeling was that she can do pretend play at home (try stopping her!) but that the school has so much other cool stuff, who needs it?</p>
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<p>2) If DH is adamantly opposed and I can't change his mind, what should we look for in a preschool? Are there schools that use the materials and the individual work idea that are sort of Montessori-influenced but might not label themselves so clearly?   I don't really see an alternative that I'm happy with--Waldorf and Reggio just seem a little less structured than I would like, and at other preschools the learning seems like it might be pretty superficial. If there's a Montessori-esque alternative out there please tell me.</p>
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<p>3) I felt like the school (and another Montessori school that I visited since) were both a little defensive of the method in their presentations to parents. This seems unnecessary to me and I'm wondering why. Is Montessori really so controversial? I don't really get why anyone would have a problem with it.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>I'm afraid that my own enthusiasm for Montessori just looks to DH like I'm a member of the cult. Sigh.</p>
<p> </p>
 

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<p>Ok, I'm not the best person to answer since DD hasn't started yet but I can certainly relate to a hesitant DH!  What helped to get him on board was for him to read up on it more.  I just finished the first chapter of Montessori: The Science Behind Genius <span class="f"><cite>www.<b>montessori</b>-<b>science</b>.org/<b>Montessori</b>-<b>Genius</b>/Lillard_<b>Montessori</b>_<b>Science</b>_<b>Genius</b>_Ch1.pdf and you can read it online for free (I'm planning on getting the whole book).  Anyways, it discusses the science of Montessori and how the principals actually line up very well with our current understanding of childhood development.  Before reading up on it more DH was going around calling Montessori some crazy hippie school. :lol</cite></span></p>
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<p><span class="f"><cite>To the question of fantasy this is my one hang up in Montessori so I'm not sure how to respond either.  I'm not sure why they seemed so defensive in your tours?  Maybe because parents really didn't have an understanding of what Montessori is? When DH talked to the director of school where we're planning on sending DD she really took her time to explain things to him (and he asked a million questions).  He didn't have any problems with her being defensive and he can be pretty direct if he does have concerns, which I could see how it could make someone defensive.</cite></span></p>
 

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<p>No, there is no "fantasy" play at Montessori.  if the kids want to pretend to have a tea party, that wont happen...instead, they will have real tea in real porcelain cups in a real table.  They wont play "kitchen" ...instead, they will set their own table with real plates and forks and such for snacktime, and then wash their plates with real water and soap, all while wearing a real smock.</p>
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<p>Role-playing?  They are playing the roles of adults.</p>
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<p>As for mythical pretend play, he is right...they wont pretend to be sorcerers or fairies or pirates at school.  Consider Waldorf for that..and if he thinks that Montessori is cult-like, he will think that Waldorf families should be institutionalized!  :)  To counter this balance, we encourage the fantasy play at home.  Afterall, in kindergarden, they do not have mythical pretend play either...so its just a matter of time that this will cease in any school environment.</p>
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<p>As for self-expression, all kids will express themselves...will they jump up and down and giggle every single moment of the day?  hardly.  But they will express themselves through their work...they will find out what they enjoy doing and simply love learning.  Isnt this what everyone wants for thier child?</p>
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<p>The big issue with Montessori is that any school can use that term on their door...nobody "owns" the term, and therefore, I could set up a school tomorrow and call it a Montessori school.  Pilfer through the schools that claim to be Montessori, and I bet they wont find many that are entirely certified.  In our school, all the teachers AND their aides are certified....not so typical, unfortunately.  So, he may be thinking of the schools that dont prepare kids simply because they make it up as they go along and only call themselves Montessori...these are usually the schools that dont prepare children for public academics, whereas true Montessori schools typically exceed the standard.</p>
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<p>They may be defensive because some of the above so-called schools do not monitor perforamnce or "rate" the children on the reading or math level....so nobody knows how their child is performing inside this vaccuum.</p>
 

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<p>I was worried about the lack of imagination too.  My kiddo has been at Montessori for 3 months.  It's been a tough adjustment, but I think it's been good for all of us.  We also encourage lots of free play and imagination at home.  We realized that school is school and home is home.  They are not the same.  She's at school for 3 hours every day and does school things at school.  She's free to play and pretend as much as she wants at home.  She's still very creative at home, she's just more likely to clean up her toys and wipe up her own spills ;).  This works well for us.</p>
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<p>There's actually a thread on the Waldorf tribe for families that do Montessori but love Waldorf materials and themes at home.  </p>
 

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Discussion Starter #5
<p>Thanks for your replies! Freestylemama, can you tell me what was rough about the adjustment?</p>
<p>FWIW, both schools I was talking about are certified, one AMS and one AMI.</p>
<p>Another question: did using cursive sandpaper letters make it harder for your child to learn to read/identify printed letters?</p>
 

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<p> </p>
<p>My dc attended Montessori pre-schools, with certified programs and teachers, and thrived there. Creativity and self-expression were never a problem for them. Honestly, now that they are teens, I wish they were a little less self-expressive. They both attend a performing arts high school (DS in music, DD in drama) and are deeply involved in creative endeavours. This summer, DS expressed himself with a 12 inch green Mohawk haircut and a fairly extreme punk look. Last night, he stenciled another t-shirt with a local band's logo, artistically ripped it up and wore it proudly to school today. Before she left for school this morning, DD asked me if she looked like an anime character, because that's the look she was trying to achieve (FTR, yes, she did). She has been working all week on her costume for the Harry Potter premiere tomorrow night. Attending Montessori did not harm their creative interests or their self-expression in the least. </p>
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<p>I think it's a good idea to keep a weather-eye on teacher's attitudes and approaches in any school setting. I'd look for an open-minded, supportive, encouraging atmosphere that nurtures a love of learning and respect for others.  I wouldn't be happy with teachers who tried to squelch creativity or self-expression. However, I concur with others that at Montessori, a lot of pretend play isn't necessary because the children are engaged in real, meaningful activities. My dc's schools offered lots of music and art, so there was a lot of opportunity for creative activity every day. </p>
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<p>I admit that there is sometimes an emphasis on Montessori that rings harshly in the ears of listeners. There can be a defensiveness because of misuse of the name and the method or an enthusiasm in trying to explain what makes it special. I'd suggest that you and your DH try to meet up with a few of the families from the school. Likely there's a range of enthusiasm and he will meet others who have a moderate attitude about the school experience.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Regarding the sandpaper letters question - my dc had no problem learning to read.  </p>
 

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<p>Creativity is a HUGE part of Montessori.  Creativity was considered by Montessori to be the highest form of intellect.  This is a reason why children come out of Montessori and are consistently thought to be more creative research study after research study.</p>
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<p>A big difference is that creativity is spoon fed to children.  They aren't taught by us that to be creative, you have to create or act out a story that there's a princess in a castle, a dragon guarding it, and someone is coming in to save you.  (See how uncreative that is?  But isn't that what MOST schools force feed their children?).  Montessori opens the door to creativity, but it uses the wonder and fascination that is in the world...not trying to create a world that is fake and WAY overly done.</p>
<p> </p>
 

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<p>The adjustment was to the rules and structure.  She had a difficult time respecting other children's work and staying within the expected parameters.  She came to M from a very fun, very chaotic play based daycare where the kids could do whatever they wanted as long as no one was hurt. </p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>MattBronsil</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1279933/help-me-out-here-i-love-montessori-dh-does-not#post_16053469"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Creativity is a HUGE part of Montessori.  Creativity was considered by Montessori to be the highest form of intellect.  This is a reason why children come out of Montessori and are consistently thought to be more creative research study after research study.</p>
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<p>A big difference is that creativity is spoon fed to children.  They aren't taught by us that to be creative, you have to create or act out a story that there's a princess in a castle, a dragon guarding it, and someone is coming in to save you.  (See how uncreative that is?  But isn't that what MOST schools force feed their children?).  Montessori opens the door to creativity, but it uses the wonder and fascination that is in the world...not trying to create a world that is fake and WAY overly done.</p>
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<p><br>
I really liked the way you put that!  Makes a lot of sense to me and that's one thing that I've always struggled with when it comes to Waldorf schools (the forced creativity if the kids don't want it or at least a certain way). This is something that has always bothered me a bit about Montessori even though I love everything else.  I'm going to have to think about this a bit, thanks again for sharing!</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>tangledblue</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1279933/help-me-out-here-i-love-montessori-dh-does-not#post_16051839"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Ok. I went to a Montessori preschool and LOVED it. We are looking at preschools for DD next year (when she will be 3.5) and my starting point was Montessori. DH and I went to our first open house at a Montessori school here and it turns out that, while I loved it (walked into the space and was enchanted, so lovely and organized and appealing, really liked what the teachers said for the most part),  DH pretty much hated it. He didn't like: a) how often the name Montessori was invoked, said it felt "cultish" and b) was really bothered by a couple of comments the teachers made about how kids "don't have fantasies." Which I interpreted to mean simply that kids didn't always distinguish between fantasy and reality, but that DH basically interpreted to mean that the school wouldn't encourage any self-expression and might in fact suppress it.</p>
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<p>I was totally blindsided by his attitude because usually we are on the same page about things and I was pretty distressed. Based on my observations of DD (and my own personal bias of course) I think she would thrive in Montessori. She would so benefit from building her concentration and loves to quietly explore things already (when she's in the mood.)</p>
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<p>So, here are my questions for you wise ladies:</p>
<p>1) I was totally unaware of any controversy involving Montessori and pretend play until this happened--didn't even think about it because I remembered Montessori with such delight. How can I resolve this concern for DH? My feeling was that she can do pretend play at home (try stopping her!) but that the school has so much other cool stuff, who needs it?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>2) If DH is adamantly opposed and I can't change his mind, what should we look for in a preschool? Are there schools that use the materials and the individual work idea that are sort of Montessori-influenced but might not label themselves so clearly?   I don't really see an alternative that I'm happy with--Waldorf and Reggio just seem a little less structured than I would like, and at other preschools the learning seems like it might be pretty superficial. If there's a Montessori-esque alternative out there please tell me.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>3) I felt like the school (and another Montessori school that I visited since) were both a little defensive of the method in their presentations to parents. This seems unnecessary to me and I'm wondering why. Is Montessori really so controversial? I don't really get why anyone would have a problem with it.</p>
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<p>I'm afraid that my own enthusiasm for Montessori just looks to DH like I'm a member of the cult. Sigh.</p>
<p> </p>
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<p><br>
Here are my answers, but I would encourage him to come ask online if he wants. For the record, I really like our Montessori - but I don't think Montessori is The One True Way. I think it's neat, but there are other neat things around.</p>
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<p>1 a) Well yes, when you ask people about their methodology and tour their school, they will probably tell you what's great about it. :) Here's how I looked at it. I really did not care when my son ENTERED Montessori at 2 years old whether he came out Montessori-certified. But I did really want people who had a - thoughtful approach. Who didn't just do things because they sounded good but who thought about how that might work for the child. And I wanted my son to be with people who love - love, love - their work.  So really, ok, to be frank I did not care quite so much about developing a good grip as his teachers did. But I liked that they cared about what they thought would help my son in the future, rather than what would get them through that day.</p>
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<p>1 b) I write fiction (with faeries!), am a professional editor, paint, and studied music at a pretty high level. So no one is more into creativity in a lot of ways than I am.  And I LOVE how Montessori approaches it. You know why? Because in the end, in order to be truly creative you have to be grounded in the natural, real world. You cannot describe the gossamer of fairy wings if you have never understood what gossamer is, or what wings are. Even for the wildest fantasy, in order to explain/express it for other people you have to have a base vocabulary and understanding.</p>
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<p>A lot of what passes for "creative fantasy" isn't. There is really not much creative about gnomes. They are little mythical people...but if the adults are telling the stories, then where is the creativity in the child? When an adult tells a child about gnomes, for example, the ADULT is being whimsical. The CHILD is gathering information. Talking to a child about the wild -- wild!! lifecycle of the frog (tadpoles! to! frogs!) is only uncreative in comparison because we have this concept that frogs are science and gnomes are not. And yet, if a child hears about a frog and then makes believe that s/he is a tadpole until s/he comes out of the bath, that's just as creative as taking a story about knights and pretending to be a knight.  In other words, you cannot stop the creative development from going on. You just decide which stories to tell.  And I like that Montessori <strong>starts</strong> from the natural world at the age that children are still literal.</p>
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<p>I'm not sure what he means by self-expression. At our school the kids write stories and before that, they tell stories, share about themselves, and all that. Maybe that's not standard. They do some free drawing too, at the end of the day.</p>
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<p>That said, it is true that within a Montessori classroom kids will not always be encouraged to create long fantastical scenarios, pretend they are cats, and so on.  For us it's easy enough to do at home so we do. But if it's super-important it might be an idea to look at other models. I have to say the reason I didn't like the "play-based" preschools I toured was that it seemed like the kids spent so much energy and time every day negotiating their roles (bad baby, good baby, etc.) and I just didn't love that for my son, that sooooo much time in the day would be spent on that.</p>
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<p>2) I didn't find one.</p>
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<p>3) I had that vibe from ours too and it bothered me. It doesn't anymore. I think after reading these forums for a couple of years I get why. You tour the school and you love the peace and you have some concerns (as with anything) but you go for it...and then at the end of September everyone gets concerned (me too) that their child is bored, that the method is rigid, why is my son tired, he can't tell me anything he's done, he seems to only do the prick-a-shape thing all day long, is he happy...and so on. I think one of the strengths of Montessori is that it is a very patient approach. There is no emphasis on every day producing something shiny. But we impatient people tend to get frustrated. I think over time schools can get a bit - over-eager to get parents to chill out a little bit. :)</p>
<p> </p>
 

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<p>Just to add, music has been covered above, but the art classes are different as well.  Most art classes are just lets create a craft today" ...not so with montessori.  Keep in mind, everything is done with a purpose, even art.  Nothing is done just to keep the kids "busy" ....consider this article:</p>
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<p><a href="http://mymontessorijourney.typepad.com/my_montessori_journey/2009/02/art-in-the-montessori-classroom-process-vs-project.html" target="_blank">http://mymontessorijourney.typepad.com/my_montessori_journey/2009/02/art-in-the-montessori-classroom-process-vs-project.html</a></p>
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<p>If anything, when your read the above, there is more creative expression in the art classes since the children are not told what their final project should look like...its really up to them to use the materials and master the materials to create what they want to do.  Given clay, the teacher (in a normal school) may say that the kids should create a mug, a bowl or a plate.  In a montessori school, the kids are given clay and are told to simply play and feel the tactile qualities and make something of their own design.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #12
<p>Thank you so so much for your great and thoughtful responses! You have really captured what I have been trying to articulate to DH about Montessori and creativity. I think he might be coming around.  :)</p>
 

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<p>I really liked Montessori but we didn't end up choosing it because of the local options/schedule. We attend a really terrific Reggio program and though not at all Montessori, they actually do have some similar themes. Good quality materials, natural elements, smaller work groups for specific projects like clay or threading, skills-based activities but no "developmental" stuff really (ABC singing). Lots of really great art which is never the use=these-specific-shapes to make the "right" picture. Watercolors/paint/clay, etc. Really excellent handling of conflict and resolution. Very open to parental involvement which might be a big deal to DH. A fair number of reggio programs have Montessori-trained teachers. Ours in fact hired a woman with more than 20 years of lead experience which has been a nice development</p>
 

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<p>Each school is different, and I can't speak for *all* schools, but most have free, outside play time too and its not like the teachers go around telling them to stop playing pretend <span><img alt="upsidedown.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/upsidedown.gif" style="width:15px;height:15px;"></span>. It is just not something they really do as a "work" or part of their work time. But as others have said, Monessori schools may have some "flexibility". At DS's preschool, all the teachers were Montessori certified, one even oversaw student teaching for the regional center, and they did have some "works" that were playful learning and open to fantasy- a basket of blocks, a beautiful wooden farm set, a work where the child washed a baby doll, etc. So while you're not going to find things exclusive to fantasy play for works, there is certainly the potential for playful and creative expression within Montessori philosophy and activities.</p>
 

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<p>Just to add, my childrens' classroom has a farm set (there is a lesson attached to that somehow, but I have yet to hear about it).  They also have a barbie-hair-station-thingamajob (but its not "babie" but more of a nondescript small child's head).  There is also a TON of drawing that occurs in that class every single day.  My DD makes at least 2 calendars every month (this month, obviously she will make a December calendar), and once she makes the grid (to develop hand control as well as pattern awareness), she enters the numbers and the writes the year and month, as well as signs it, and writes the holidays in the appropriate places, then decorates it with month-appropriate artwork of her own (eg snow, santa, snowman, etc).  I think this is a good example that everything is purposeful, even the artwork.  The end result will be a beautiful December calendar.  Even using crayons is not busywork...but done with a purpose.  I dont know any other child in any other school that did something like this when they were 4.</p>
 

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<p>I am reading an awesome book that might change your DH's mind.  Its very readable and engaging.  A dad wrote it about his experience of falling in love with Montessori.  Its called "Montessori Madness:  A parent to parent argument for Montessori education."  The author is Trevor Eissler.  You can read the first pages of the book on amazon.  It convinced me to buy it.  My DH and I will send our daughter on to K this year (after her being in a montessori school for ages 16 months to 5 years old).  We had a choice between a highly rated traditional school (one of the best in the district and one that people are clawing to get into) that we are zoned to, and a montessori magnet program.  I agonized over the decision until I actually toured them both.  We both hands down liked the montessori school.  Trevor Eissler does a great job of breaking down what Montessori is about and how he's seen his kids thrive.  He explains how traditional school is based on a factory model and how extrinsic rewards/punishments slowly kill a child's desire to learn.</p>
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<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FMontessori-Madness-Parent-Argument-Education%2Fdp%2F098228330X%2Fref%3Dsr_1_1%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1291177529%26sr%3D8-1" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/Montessori-Madness-Parent-Argument-Education/dp/098228330X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291177529&sr=8-1</a></p>
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<p>Click "search inside this book" to read a good chunk of the beginning of the book.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Will definetly be passing this one on to DH when I'm done.</p>
<p>XOXO</p>
<p>B</p>
 

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<p> </p>
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">
<div> I am reading an awesome book that might change your DH's mind.  Its very readable and engaging.  A dad wrote it about his experience of falling in love with Montessori.  Its called "Montessori Madness:  A parent to parent argument for Montessori education."  </div>
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<p> As a side note, he was going to write another book that never really came together.  I wrote something for him.  You can see it here:</p>
<p><a href="http://projectmontessori.com/stories/" target="_blank">http://projectmontessori.com/stories/</a></p>
<p> </p>
<p>If he's worried about creativity, let me list a few Montessori creative alumni you may know:</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Mallory Lewis:  Ventriloquist who took over the Lambchop puppet from her mother when she passed away.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Sergey Brin and Larry Page:  The guys who founded Google.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Will Wright (SP?):  Creator of SIMS games.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Anne Frank:  Author of her famous diary.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Matt Bronsil:  Ventriloquist, stand up comedian, improv comedian, children's entertainer, and adored poster of Mothering.com message boards. He is also known as "The world's most fantastic man."  (Side note:  That's by his girlfriend...not a scientific study).</p>
<p> </p>
<p>When I think about past students of Montessori I went to school with, most (if not all) that I am in contact with now have SOMETHING they love doing.  Quite a few of them do something with their jobs.  A friend I just saw last night is attending law school to become a legal consultant for musicians.  I have another friend who makes boats.  Yet another friend who is an artist.  Not that you have to have these types of jobs to be creative, nor that people in a more traditional job are uncreative, but it shows that there's a certain sense of willingness to try something different if that's where our lives take us.  You can find that in traditional educated students, but it's usually something they try to beat OUT of you in regular education so those that do find it are generally the amazing exception rather than the norm.</p>
<p> </p>
 

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<p>My ds was only in primary for 4 months,but he really liked it. I would recommend your child try a M school.Your dh will be able to see the growth and joy in dd.Ds still remembers the snack time.Washing dishes and sweeping the floor.He could also freely paint.Previously he was in a public K and they did a lot of worksheets and colored printed out sheets-and shame on you  if you went out of the lines,lol.It was so drab compared to his montessori class.</p>
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<p>I don't know about the pretend play.They do it  during recess at my kids M. in primary,lower,and upper.They are quite creative. Ask your dh to give it a chance. I wish my dd could hav experienced primary,but I got her in at the end of lower el..</p>
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<p>And if one school doesn't work out try another.How lucky you are to  have more than one M school to choose from.</p>
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<p>No issues with cursive and print.He writes in cursive most times and can read both fine.Sme with my dd.</p>
 
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