It is becoming more and more common for traditional education programs to put more focus on academic, instructed learning. At the same time, research is adding up which says that play is an important part of early education. In the Montessori classroom, play-based learning has always been important, viewing child-centered activities as a vital component in early childhood development. In addition to accelerating learning, play-based activities offer children benefits which go beyond the traditional classroom and embrace a more well-rounded development program.
Motor Control and Play
Physical activity is critical for early development. During play, children are also learning hand-eye coordination, muscle control, and building physical stamina. But it is also important to note that play does not mean wasted time, as the Montessori environment makes it possible for the play of children to be equally educational. For preschoolers, the benefits include building fine motor skills and coordination.
Learning Cognitive Skills
Many childhood games, including such common activities as playing with blocks of different colors and shapes also help children learn important problem solving skills. Encouraging the use of logic and information processing can be tedious in the purely instructional classroom, but Montessori combines the lessons with play, and that helps with both retention and enthusiasm for the children.
Play, Creativity, and Curiosity
Play-based learning encourages children to be inquisitive, such as asking questions in order to solve problems. By playing with appropriate objects or games, children make education fun, and learn important processes of deduction and comparison, along with the basic skills of math, shape recognition, and even reading. The idea of play-based learning is fundamental to Montessori learning, where everything in the classroom is geared towards the child, and focuses on helping the child remain focused and engaged.
Exercise and Education
There are also studies which show a direct link between physical exercise and mental performance. Laughing and playing and moving about stimulates blood flow and creates endorphins which stimulate the mind. Play-based learning is also helpful in keeping a child’s attention, which means that the child is more likely to learn because they are interested in what they are doing.
Combining Education and Development
The concept of play-based learning is not new. Before the development of standardized educational programs, children were gathered in small, mixed-age groups, and learned how to solve problems, read, calculate and more, all while playing. This was a basic observation by Maria Montessori, including mixed-ages in the classroom and play-based education. With the natural order of things as her guide, she developed the Montessori method, incorporating natural methods from daily living into a structured learning program.
To put all of this together, play-based learning benefits children’s mental, physical, and emotional health. It fosters an interest in learning, and teaches children all manners of important life skills. Despite a disturbing move away from play-based learning in traditional schools, a growing body of research points towards it as an excellent educational and developmental tool.
Learning through play and hands-on activities are key components of the Montessori Method. This type of learning is incorporated into the daily curriculum at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Switzer Mesa Campus. Visit our school today to see the difference between Montessori learning and traditional learning firsthand.