Montessori vs Play-Based Learning

Children from a very young age are curious seekers of knowledge and often resort to different ways of learning to make sense of the world around them. 

While traditional educational approaches facilitate academic development in children through standardized curricula, they often limit their learning experience. 

The Montessori Method of education is a pedagogical tool developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907, that promotes self-directed play and autodidactic education. 

Montessori Schools provide children with a systematically designed Montessori Prepared environment that promotes child-directed play. 

Furthermore, Montessori Materials and Montessori Activities promote children to independently perform tasks and gain a sense of confidence from a very young age. 

Due to the self-directed play and autodidactic education methods, Montessori Education is often mistaken for Play-based learning schools or play schools. 

As parents, choosing the right preschool for your child can be a pretty perplexing task, as the preschool stage is one of the most integral years of your child’s developmental process. 

If you are a parent or immediate caregiver who is confused between enrolling your child into a play-based preschool or Montessori school, look no further. 

Below is everything you should know about Montessori and play-based learning to help you provide your child with the best learning environment.

What is open-ended play?

It is quite unconventional to associate education with plat time, isn’t it? But what if play is the key source to your child’s development process?

For the initial six years, the child is developing their understanding of the world that surrounds them and should be provided with ample opportunities to explore the environment independently.

Open-ended play in terms of education is a learning approach that provides pupils with limitless or endless learning possibilities. 

Unlike traditional preschools that limit your child’s educational experience to mere desks and chairs, the open-ended play approach provides children with a flexible curriculum, freedom within limits, and an opportunity to learn at their own pace. 

Play-based learning institutions provide children with a curriculum that incorporates specifically designed activities and materials to promote limitless play as well as autodidactic education. 

Not only do open-ended play institutions provide children with tools for academic excellence but they also facilitate social, emotional, physical, gross motor, and fine motor development.

What is a Montessori Preschool?

The Montessori Method of education is a century-old pedagogical tool developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907. 

The Montessori Method of education promotes children to indulge in hands-on learning and self-directed play. 

Unlike traditional preschools, Montessori preschools provide children with a systematic educational environment, specifically designed materials, and opportunities to develop at their own pace. 

Montessori Preschools are more than just educational institutions, in fact, they provide the child with the right tools to prepare them for kindergarten. 

According to Dr. Maria Montessori children for the initial six years of their life, have an absorbent mind and pass through periods of sensitivity.

By taking the needs and requirements of the sensitive periods and the absorbent mind into account, the Montessori method of education provides children during their early childhood stages with the appropriate tools for optimum development.

Montessori Preschools are designed for children in the first plane of development between the ages of 2 and a half to 6 years.

Montessori preschools promote children to develop the values of self-discipline, confidence, responsibility, and independence. 

Montessori Preschools promote your child to comprehend abstract concepts like math and language from a very young age.

Learn more about Montessori Preschools: https://mymontessorimoments.com/montessori-for-preschool/

What are the characteristics of Montessori Preschools?

The Montessori Method of education is a century-old pedagogical tool developed by Dr. Maria Montessori that promotes auto-didactic education and hands-on learning. 

The Montessori Method of education takes the needs of the different planes of development and provides pupils with age-appropriate materials and a Prepared Environment. 

Children between the ages of 2 and a half to 6 years have special requirements and are ready to independently partake in activities or interact with Montessori Materials.

Montessori Preschools provide children with unique opportunities to reach their optimum potential. 

Here is a list of chief characteristics of Montessori Preschools that facilitate holistic development in children:

1) Hands-on learning:

The Montessori Philosophy promotes hands-on learning that helps the child venture out and explores the surrounding environment. 

The Montessori preschool environment incorporates a wide range of Montessori materials that encourage children to indulge in hands-on play as well as develop preliminary skills. 

2) Child-Centered Education:

Children are able to learn, experience, and thrive when given the opportunity to develop at their own pace. 

The Montessori Method of education takes the individuality of each child in the classroom into account. 

The teacher in Montessori preschools is trained to treat each child in the classroom as a separate entity. 

3) Teacher as a guide:

The Teacher is not the source of information and knowledge in a Montessori Institution, instead acts more as a guide towards the source of information. 

In a Montessori Preschool, teachers are observers and guides that facilitate auto-didactic education. 

4) Sensory Development:

The Curriculum of Montessori Education relies heavily on sensorial stimulation and sensory development. 

Sensorial Development in a Montessori Prepared environment is facilitated by specifically designed Montessori Materials and Montessori Activities

In a Montessori Preschool children are provided with individual Montessori materials to engage all their senses. 

5) Philosophy of Auto-Education:

The Montessori Method of Education also promotes auto-didactic education and does not limit the child’s educational process by constraining it with a rigid curriculum and predetermined pace. 

Instead of receiving homework and worksheets, Montessori Preschools promote children to actively participate in Montessori activities to comprehend complex and abstract concepts.

What are Play-Based Preschools?

Play-based preschools also referred to as play schools similar to the Montessori Method of education are decentralized educational institutions for children between the ages of 3 to 6 years. 

In a Play-Based Preschool Environment, children are promoted to freely move around the classroom, interact with objects, and participate in activities of their choice.

These open-ended play activities not only facilitate physical development and cognitive development in children, but they promote social development. 

Children in a Play-Based Preschool are encouraged to participate in collaborative activities to develop the qualities of coordination, and cooperation, as well as build new relationships with their peers. 

A quintessential Play-Based Preschool classroom integrates work areas like the sensory area, the dressing-up station, or a nature area for children to interact with. 

Ideally, a traditional playschool facilitates the education of basic mathematical skills, reading, and writing skills, as well as introduces numbers and letters. 

Lastly, play-based preschools provide children with tools to develop problem-solving skills, and critical thinking, as well as learn how to reflect on themselves, others, and their surrounding environment. 

Comparisons between Montessori Learning and Play-Based Learning:

In order to effectively compare the two educational approaches, one must consider the similarities and differences between the Montessori Approach and Play-Based Learning. 

Below is a list of key differences and similarities between Montessori Learning and Play-Based Learning to help you compare the two approaches:

What are the key Similarities between Montessori Education and Play-Based Learning?

  • Both The Montessori Method of Education and the Play-Based Learning Approach are student-centered, unlike traditional educational institutions that are teacher-centered. 
  • Along with basic curricula, the Montessori Method of Education and the play-based learning approach promote children to independently interact with the surrounding environment, materials, and their peers. 
  • The Montessori Method of Education and Play-Based Learning Approach provide children with an appropriate environment to become seekers of knowledge and education. 
  • The Montessori Method of education and Play-Based Learning Approach promote children to independently and freely choose the activities to participate in and materials to interact with. 
  • Lastly, The Montessori Method of education and Play-Based Learning Approach promote autodidactic education and allow children to work, learn, as well as develop at their own pace.

What are the key differences between Montessori Education and Play-Based Learning?

While Play-Based Learning and The Montessori Method of Education have a lot of similarities they also have their own unique differences:

Different Environments:

While the Montessori Method of education provides children with a specifically designed Montessori Prepared Environment. 

The Montessori Prepared Environment incorporates appropriate materials, furniture, and activities that promote autodidactic education. 

The Montessori Prepared Environment sets your child up for success by dividing the area into sensorial, math, language, practical, and cultural areas.

While many traditional play schools provide children with similar environments, they do not primarily focus on academic learning. 

Academics: 

Montessori Preschools focus more on academics than a traditional play-based preschool. 

Children in a Montessori Preschool are introduced to complex and arbitrary concepts of math, language, and arts from the early stages of development. 

Work Cycles and Unstructured Time:

The Montessori Method of education provides children with a systematically structured uninterrupted work cycle

The three-hour work cycle is self-directed, and individualized, and gives children a chance to work at their own pace. 

Children are promoted to do activities of their choice, complete the selected activities, interact with other pupils, and at the end put back the materials that were used to do the activities in their designated place

While traditional Play-Based Preschools are unstructured and promote the unstructured self-directed play. 

Pretend Play:

While a traditional play-based preschool promotes children to indulge in pretend play, the Montessori Method of education promotes children to participate in reality-based practical life activities

Materials:

The Montessori Method of education promotes children to interact with specifically designed Montessori Materials they facilitate sensory development and provide concrete representation for arbitrary concepts. 

These specifically designed Montessori Materials have a built-in control of error that allows children to independently identify their mistakes and rectify them without any adult intervention. 

While traditional play-based preschools integrate materials that lean more on the side of open-ended and imaginative play.  

Work:

While the Montessori Method of education provides children to perform activities in order to develop, play-based preschool on the contrary depends on open-ended play. 

Is The Montessori Method of Education Play-Based?

While most consider the Montessori Method of education to be chaotic and unorganized, it is far from true. 

The Montessori of Education promotes children to indulge in self-directed play and autodidactic education to achieve higher levels of academic attainments. 

In fact, open-ended play in a Montessori Classroom promotes children to partake in real-life practical activities, learn about the outdoor world, and use any material of their choice, as well as learn at their own pace.

Montessori Education or Play-Based Learning: Which one should you choose?

The Montessori Method of education and Play-Based Preschool have several common factors that enhance your child’s learning experience.

Although the two educational approaches have different commonalities, they also have unique factors that set them apart.

While Play-Based Preschools are dependent on open-ended play, the Montessori Method of education takes a more systematic and structured approach.

Play-Based Learning promotes children to comprehend the functions of the world on the basis of pretend play, while the Montessori Method of education allows children to understand the world by performing Practical Life Activities.

If you are a parent who wants your child to enjoy their learning experience along with academic centric curriculum, exciting materials, and engaging activities, the Montessori Method of education might be the right approach for you.