Fantasy. Does this include small-world play with toy miniatures? Does it include role-playing and dressing up, or, are we talking only in the realms of Fantastical, such as mermaids and fairies and fire-breathing dragons when Montessorians talk of such things? It is widely known that Maria Montessori did not believe “Fantasy” had any place in a classroom before a child was 6 years old.
Creativity is encouraged within Montessori Education but that creativity should be founded in reality according to the philosophy and there are arguments and studies said to prove that children with a Montessori Education are more creative problem solvers.
We are a home-ed environment and whilst we do have a dedicated space for her work materials, she also has space for toys that would be considered non-Montessori at all. She likes Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly, Bing, Raa Raa, Paw Patrol and then some, she has toys for each but also has a wide range of wooden toys, like planes, cars, train tracks and pirate ships and a never ending supply of Playmobil. Strict Montessorians may cringe at the clash, but it works for us. L will be three this April coming, she has great focus and dexterity for her age, her verbal communication is outstanding, her reasoning and problem solving skills are creative and her understanding of complex ideas far surpasses anything I would have ever expected of a two year old, however I have nothing to “compare” her to, to use a term I’m desperately opposed to.
I follow my child. That is the ultimate holy grail of Montessori, at least as I understand it and think people get too caught up in materials, age ranges and what Maria said 100 years ago that they forget to truly follow their child. L will happily do practical life work until the cows come home, particularly fine motor work but will also happily sit for hours in her own world with her toy figures making up stories and games and her rules.
What I observe in these moments are both fascinating and inspiring. I watch my daughter practice grace and courtesy, her observations of people and the world around her, she practices language and experiments with actions and consequences but most of all she processes everyday situations and emotions. Are these games considered fantasy? I don’t think so, what I see is a little girl processing the world and what it presents her with and then take that information she’s gathered and role-play through her toys as a way of processing. Would this be frowned upon by Maria Montessori? I don’t no, I’m new to the game and haven’t read everything she’s ever written, but I’d like to think not. I’d like to think she would see the benefit for each individual child even if overall it didn’t fit with her philosophy.
How do you approach small-world play and fantasy in your home? Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂