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Why the Montessori Environment uses Guided Play to Foster Learning

A Montessori classroom is organized so that each section of the classroom and each topic has a different set of learning objectives. These objectives only help children acquire knowledge but also teach them how to think and make connections in their world. With guided-play, what Montessori referred to as work, the adult determines how the children will interact with one another. Through directed play, we teach spatial and mathematical concepts by using words such as above, beside, next to, below, and nearby to describe the environment.

Montessori Areas and Their Learning Goals

Practical Life -Independence; body control; coordination of movement; concentration; a sense of order; healthy work habits; character development; grace and courtesy

Sensorial - Refinement of senses – size, dimension, form, color, texture, temperature, weight, sound, taste, scent; constructing relationships based on sensory information and perception; gross and fine motor development; visual and auditory discrimination; developing hand-eye coordination; increasing attention span.

Culture and Science - Find patterns in nature; understand the truth in the natural world; learn their place in human culture; gain an appreciation for all living things.

Math - Counting; sorting; patterning; matching; basic operations

Language - Vocabulary development; classification; writing; reading; oral language skills; grammar

For children, neither free play (no adult interaction) nor direct instruction (no child exploration) can fully meet the educational demands of today’s fast-changing world. And whether we call it work or play, the educational goal of a Montessori teacher in guided play interactions is to allow children the freedom to master how to think and apply it to a lifetime of learning.

In the above picture, our teacher is working with the child on Pink Tower extensions. Exploration with The Pink Tower develops a mathematical mind related to ratios and our base ten systems while directly developing and refining the visual sense, their ability to discriminate size, and their muscular control of the hand. This material also enriches the vocabulary. By comparing the cubes, children learn terms like biggest, big, smallest, and small by comparing the cubes. It gives a concrete introduction to concepts a child draws on later from memory when introduced explicitly to the areas of mathematics.

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