“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein
In a recent Psychology Today article, play was described to have five categories:
- Play is self-chosen and self directed,
- Play is an activity in which means are more valued than ends,
- Play is guided by mental rules,
- Play is non-literal, imaginative, marked off in some way from reality, and
- Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind.
Reading through these characteristics, I couldn’t help but to see the comparisons between play and a Montessori classroom.
- Our Montessori environments are set up to encourage “self-directed learners.”
- We place value on learning how to learn and the joy of discovery rather than the final product.
- Montessori classrooms are guided by the principle of “freedom within limits.”
- Montessori methods use the power of metaphor and story to ignite curiosity.
- As Dr. Montessori so succinctly put it, “The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”
In other words, Montessori environments are the embodiment of play with self-directed children learning how to learn within a framework of rules that encourage imagination and concentration!
In spite of all of this, I have been reading about what some researchers are calling Play Deficit Disorder (PDD). Although I resist the tendency to label everything, the core argument resonates that television and media devices are so engaging and ever-present that they fill the hours that children would otherwise be coming up with play scenarios based on their own ideas, imagination, and experiences.
A wonderful group, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE), offers resources that encourage families to play together and I have attached a pdf titled “Turn off the Screen & Turn on the LEAVES. “