The Work of the Child is Play!
Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul.
A better way to say conceive of this is that
what appears to be play to the adult is work
for the child. He is concetrating, repeating,
imagining, solving problems, creating and
enjoying the process of learning.
"What is the greatest sign of success for a teacher transformed?" Maria Montessori wrote, "It is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist."
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THE UNINTERRUPTED WORK CYCLE • This is a period of time, usually in the morning, when children work unencumbered. After a typical morning opening circle, children are encouraged to work independently, collaborating with classmates as their work and exploration dictate. *
Play activities are essential to healthy development for children and adolescents. Research shows that 75% of brain development occurs after birth. The activities engaged in by children both stimulate and influence the pattern of the connections made between the nerve cells. This process influences the development of fine and gross motor skills, language, socialization, personal awareness, emotional well-being, creativity, problem solving and learning ability.
The most important role that play can have is to help children to be active, make choices and practice actions to mastery. They should have experience with a wide variety of content (art, music, language, science, math, social relations) because each is important for the development of a complex and integrated brain. Play that links sensori-motor, cognitive, and social-emotional experiences provides an ideal setting from brain development.
According to Montessori, the essential dimensions of play are:
- Voluntary, enjoyable, purposeful and spontaneous
- Creativity expanded using problem solving skills, social skills, language skills and physical skills
- Helps expand on new ideas
- Helps the child to adapt socially
- Helps to thwart emotional problems
If play is the work of the child, toys are the tools. Through toys, children learn about their world, themselves, and others. Toys teach children to:
- Figure out how things work
- Pick up new ideas
- Build muscle control and strength
- Use their imagination
- Solve problems
- Learn to cooperate with others
*Montessori 101: Some Basic Information that Every Montessori Parent Should Know, Tim Seldin, President, The Montessori Foundation.