"It doesn't allow Children to be Children"
In my experiences with Montessori in our City, and across Canada, this tends to be one of the top myths about Montessori. We often get this question from other ECE's in our field, from families inquiring about our program, and even our local Colleges and Universities offering early learning degrees.
There are many ways this myth can be answered, but my usual choice is: of COURSE Montessori allows kids to be kids; it actually supports their rights to be treated as humans more than most other programs! Montessori places the utmost respect to the child; we value their intrinsic rights to be treated as citizens of the world, even at their young ages - and ensure that they have a Prepared Environment that allows them the freedom to experience and interact with their world, through carefully chosen high-quality educational materials, each designed to support their individual paths of learning.
I honestly believe it is some of the Montessori terminology that has led to this myth, including referring to the child's play as "work". Adults unfamiliar with the Method often view this term as inappropriate, and assume we are pushing the child into activities/lessons that are not fun or enjoyable for the child. But the term "work" is used as a sign of respect to the child; that we value their play to be just as important as the work adults do - "play is the work of the child".
The thing I love most about our program is: students learn about balance, and that they can achieve BOTH independent, quiet and focused studies, and ALSO have daily times to be goofy, silly, and boisterous - the Work Period is for quiet learning, filled with respectfully-low voices to ensure peers are not distracted from their lessons - and the other areas of the daily schedule (opening and closing circles, exercise time, snack time) are filled with singing, music, dancing, laughter and games!
So yes, in ALL areas of a Montessori Program, kids are allowed and ENCOURAGED to be kids!!