Dress-up clothes are a big deal in our house, and we have an extensive collection of costumes packed into their own trunk, pictured behind Jenna(2.5). When my son Bruce was three and four, my MIL would take him to buy a new costume once a month. We also have a lot of hand-me-down costumes. So now, sometimes I even have trouble closing the trunk’s lid.
Since my husband and I have chosen for our kids to go to Montessori for preschool, having a giant hoard of dress-up clothes for my kids to dally with is really important. True Montessori schools like the one Jenna is registered to attend in the fall, do not by nature include dramatic play activities. In fact, if you visit a “Montessori” school and see kids dressed up like firefighters, it’s a safe bet that you are seeing a fake Montessori. Since Montessori isn’t a licensed term, any school can slap it on their title without consequence. A real Montessori school will have a bevy of bizarre objects and manipulatives for the kids to “work” with, that you don’t even recognize. I often found myself staring through the one way window at Bruce’s preschool class thinking “What the heck is that thing?”
Some educators and parents give the Montessori philosophy a really hard time because of its stance against dramatic play. After all, research shows that dramatic play is really important for children, and can actually make them smarter. My opinion is that it is really easy for families like ours to have dress-up clothes, toy kitchens, toy lawn mowers etc. at home. What is difficult is to recreate the highly unusual activities they have going on in good Montessori classrooms. Jen at Post-Apocalyptic Homeschool does a really good job creating Montessori styled experiences for her son at home, but boy is she dedicated! That’s a lot of work!
Where we live, the wonderful, three hours a day/three days a week Montessori Jenna will attend in fall only costs $300 a month. Although that price would still be out of reach for a lot of families, it is extremely cheap compared to where we use to live in California. So we are lucky that Jenna will be able to have a great Montessori experience, just like her big brother. At home, it’s a safe bet that there will be a lot of princess tea parties in my future!