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“Play Is The Work of the Child” – Maria Montessori

“Play Is The Work of the Child” – Maria Montessori

Let’s face it – we’ve all been kids and if all the kids in the world can relate to one universal thing, then it’s the fact that we absolutely love playing. If you have any doubts about this, just take a child to an educational toy store and they would literally feel as though they are in heaven. In fact, a child might find a number of toys which he/she feels they just cannot live without. Toys are more than just fun and games for children; it’s a great educational platform for them to learn through practice too. There are plenty of educational toys out there that can engage a child’s imagination and senses and encourage them to interact better with the world around them.


Dr. Maria Montessori understood this fact most thoroughly and this is why she developed her breakthrough teaching strategy in the start of the twentieth century and set a benchmark in kids education where she observed how kids and adults interacted with the environment. She observed that engaging the senses is the greatest way to get a child to reach his/her full potential and enhance their emotional, physical, social and cognitive growth. And the best way to make this happen? Through play.


“Play is the work of the child” and no one could have worded this any better than Dr Maria Montessori herself. Within these seven words is a world of meaning and after all, which child doesn’t love playing? Play to them is what life is to us adults. It’s just a basic necessity that they feel they just can’t do without. One of Dr. Montessori’s greatest discoveries is when she learnt that children love to work as well as play; they can never feel content until and unless they have an opportunity to learn, work, develop and play. This is why the Montessori Theory, the approach developed by Maria Montessori herself, focuses on the key principles of independence, observation, following the child, correcting the child, setting a prepared environment and involving an absorbent mind. This is why you will notice that in a Montessori preschool program, children’s ‘work’ has all the main characteristics of play.


A significant surprise for Dr. Montessori was her discovery that kids preferred work to play where play was merely a substitute for what kids really wanted to do, but couldn’t. Consider this – play involves imagination, engagement and pretending to do things and for kids, pretending involves acting like adults. They love preparing food for their dolls, cleaning their imaginative house and so on and with the Montessori theory, this pretend play becomes real play. Through this type of play, with the help of several tools and educational toys, kids actually learn far more than we think. In fact, play is exceptionally powerful for children and researchers and educators from across the world have discovered that play through educational toys can enrich the learning and developmental skills of kids to a whole new level.


Maria Montessori believed that the goal of early childhood should be to spur a child’s natural desire to learn. She also illustrated four types of play that will help children explore the world around them in a better way:


1. Physical play to stimulate motor skills and coordination

2. Sensory play to instill creativity and emotion through the senses

3. Group play where kids learn to work in collaboration, foster friendships and develop
emotional bonds

4. Solitary play for children to develop problem-solving skills, intellectual thinking and better


Kids toys have come a long way across the past decade or so with greater importance been given to educational toys that combine the above mentioned four types of play. In fact, wooden educational toys have risen in massive popularity over the past few years or so simply due to the sensory benefits the texture of the toys provide in addition to a plethora of educational benefits it brings too.


However, the shift in technology has also somewhat curbed the importance of educational toys and it’s saddening to see that the play experience of kids nowadays is very different from the past generations. It appears that kids are happy with electronic media play that include video games, internet games and so on where they spend much of their time interacting using an electronic device. This can take away the previous learning experiences of imaginative play through educational toys and this is why parents have such a huge role to play in ensuring that their children benefit from educational toys so they can truly benefit from the art of play.


75% of the brain develops after birth and childhood is a stage where the brain is developed in a rapid pace. This is why playing with educational toys can stimulate and influence the pattern of the connections between nerve cells and help in the development of gross motor skills, personal awareness, emotional well-being, problem-solving abilities, learning skills, creativity and socialization. Play helps children to be more active and it also helps them to make choices, which in turn will build up through their teenage and into adulthood. On the apparent, it might be mere educational toys but the way it can slowly and steadily build your child’s future is a fact that can never be ignored.



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Educational Toys, Montessori Material and Preschool Furniture Store in Sri Lanka.