Work and Play---The Montessori Way!

"He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence."

— Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 25.

NAMC (North American Montessori Center) has a great article on the role of "Playful Learning" in the Montessori Environment. This article emphasizes what is perhaps one of the greatest keystones to the Montessori Philosophy propounded by Dr. Maria Montessori: "play is the work of early childhood." This idea may seem to many parents as counter-intuitive, and many may say: "...but we bring our children to school to learn, to study, to do lots of paperwork, not to play!" But as the Montessori Method advocates and proves time and time again: children learn best and are truly successful in life when they discover things spontaneously,  independently, and according to their own development.  This is proven through countless stories of success of famous men and woman throughout history, such as: Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Julia Child, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and many more... 
It is very rare to find that children learn well while actually enjoying their learning experience, when they are forced to sit for countless hours at desks. 

 Playtime plays a vital role in the development of the child both cognitively, emotionally, socially, and academically. In the Montessori classroom we call a child's 'play' work, so as to emphasize that child's intelligence and capability, even at a young age, for real and important tasks. Work that is apart of real life activities, (ie. pouring water, cutting fabric, folding clothes, setting the table, etc...) lays the foundation for creativity and imagination for the child. Dr. Maria Montessori found that the children she taught and observed preferred real life activities as "play time", rather than fantastical play with costumes and make believe. Children like to be useful, they like to clean and like to organize. They  are just as purposeful as most adults claim to be, and seek to do purposeful activities. 

As Dr. Montessori said, "though the school contained some really wonderful toys, the children never chose them. This surprised me so much that I myself intervened, to show them how to use such toys, teaching them how to handle the doll's crockery, lighting the fire in the tiny doll's kitchen, setting a pretty doll beside it. The children showed interest for a time, but then went away, and they never made such toys the objects of their spontaneous choice. And so I understood that in a child's life play is perhaps something inferior, to which he has recourse for want of something better. " (The Secret life of Childhood, p 123).

Movement is such a necessary part of early childhood development. Children love to dance!

Using our hands and working together; these  children are mastering the art of geometry experimenting with shapes and sizes!
Concentration and uninterrupted learning is a keystone of the Montessori environment; children can show exemplary amounts of focus. 

Working hard, hard, hard! The Montessori materials are so intricate, children naturally gravitate to them.