Are there any parts of the Montessori system that are related to play-based learning?

Discussion in 'Montessori' started by Elysium, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. Elysium

    Elysium New Member

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    Dec 14, 2017

    I guess my question is more complex than the title I have used.

    I worked as an ESL teacher for 8 years and now I am a kindergarten teacher in China. I have been working with 3-year old kids for nearly a year. I started with basic things such as action songs, normal songs that deal with animals, feelings, numbers..etc and storybooks. After 6-months I realized that I need to take my teaching to a whole new level. I started working on a play-based learning style of teaching. I use constructive, fantasy, fine motor skills based activities with them. There are around 4-5 activities and 4 kids for each activity. They can freely move and I assist them and use English to help them learn the language.

    I have just realized that I need to work out a better lesson plan and use higher quality activities. My question is simple: does the Montessori teaching method have certain parts that can be called sequenced, play-based activities? If yes, are there any textbook/course books that are available for purchase and deal with the detailed explanation of the Montessori system (or those specific activities in detail and their classroom implementation)?

    Thanks a lot!
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Dec 15, 2017

    I'm not a Montessori teacher, but if I could comment on play activities in Kindergarten. I've been quite concerned about the trend in the U.S. to push for a more structured academic style of education (in all grades). The trend seems to single out specific objectives without connecting the objectives holistically to a child's entire learning and sometimes missing connecting new learning with previous learning. The trend also seems to push for more sit at your desk activities, and I'm catching wind of more lecturing and less exploration. My greatest concern is the push for upgrading achievement test scores as a means to rank teacher performance, which seems to drive the above changes in educational procedures.

    I fear that important aspects of learning are being neglected in the elementary, Kindergarten and preschool years. (In the U.S., Kindergarten usually begins at age 5 with optional preschool at earlier ages). Introspectively, I recall my own childhood Kindergarten experience in 1963 as being more holistically productive in my overall education. We had no desks at all, and only used tables for activities such as modeling with Play-Doh-like clay. Our sitting activity was in a circle, although we sat in chairs rather than a carpet (as students do now for "carpet time"). We sang songs, listened to stories read by the teacher, and played with various educational toys. We played cooperative, non-competitive games, such as London Bridge, where two students formed a tunnel with their arms over their heads and the rest of us formed a circle to take turns going through the tunnel while we sang, "London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down...."
    That s the game I remember, but we played other similar games involving an entire class or even just a few students. We also had a snack time in which we walked to the cafeteria, received our snack, and walked back to the room to eat it.

    This sounds like non-constructive play, but for a 5-year-old, all play is constructive. So much brain development was occurring during each activity, which was repeated throughout the year. These weren't just a one time activity, take a test, and move on procedure such as often occurs today: these were repeated activities. Young children don't mind repeating the same activity and even prefer the repetition--repetition is part of their brain development. Novelty, that is naturally infused within repetitive play activities, also promotes brain development, and novelty is a natural part of a play activity. In London Bridge, for example, at the end of the song the tunnel would collapse and capture a student, which of course was a different student with different reactions each time--that's what I mean by naturally infused novelty. A teacher can also infuse a bit of novelty. Mr. (Fred) Rogers, of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, an older American TV show for preschool-early elementary on PBS, he had an orderly format of repetitive activities on his program. In an example I'm currently thinking of, the program began inside his house, and the children would see him walk past the window and come in through the door. He would sing the same song, "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood", change from his sport coat to a sweater, and from his dress shoes to his sneakers. But he would also spontaneously add a slightly different action to the ritual. For example, he might stop at the window and wave. The brain feeds on novelty and novelty increases learning.

    I've written all this to say that I agree with your philosophy; to a child, play is learning. Play is the fundamental manner in which children learn. Repetitive play with novel experiences promotes learning. In Montessori, the activities are basically a form of play. The student repeatedly explores an activity until becoming proficient and then the child moves on to a more advanced activity. A child's brain, beginning in the womb, is geared toward exploration, memorization, discovery, analysis, synthesis, etc., and play is the modem that converts the environment into understanding and brain development. To quote my college professor, and he'd say this every day, "We teach by creating environments."
     
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