Play … the Montessori Way

At Maria Montessori International Academy, we look at education differently.  We embrace the idea of play and learning through play.  Parents who embrace the Montessori Philosophy also embrace the importance of play in the development of a child.  We see amazing things happen when kids are allowed to be active outside, to have unstructured time to be imaginative, and be relieved from the pressures of learning.

In the news, we hear about how “American children are falling behind their global peers,” or “Schools are not performing well on standardized tests.” Because of this focus on standardized testing, we have left behind a critical element to a child’s development: Play

What does play and learning through play have to do with performing better?  Well, Montessori students tend to performer higher than their peers on standardized tests. Here are a few excellent reasons why this happens, as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children:

  • Children learn through play –
    • cognitive skills – like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store
    • physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground
    • new vocabulary – like the words they need to play with toy dinosaurs
    • social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash
    • literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant
  • It reduces stress – when children are relaxed, their minds can focus on what they are learning
  • Play is more than meets the eye – Play can be simple and complex. There are many types of play: symbolic, sociodramatic, functional, and games with rules.
  •  It is a child’s context for learning – Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and a time for learning that cannot be achieved through completing a worksheet. For example, in playing restaurant, children write and draw menus, set prices, take orders, and make out checks. This kind of activity provides rich learning opportunities and leads to children’s success and self-esteem.

How Does MMIA Incorporate Play into Learning?

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Unstructured play means simply that – children are allowed to be active in whatever fashion they desire.  From playing heroes, being a vet to imaginary pets, running around on the playground… we love it all.  Our children get at least two times for unstructured activities within a day, most sessions lasting a minimum of 30 mins.  Younger classrooms naturally have more unstructured time.  However, we still make sure our ‘bigger’ kids get that crucial time, too.

Learning an instrument and the fundamentals of music is an active way to learn!  We have staff at both locations that are professional music instructors.  At our West Carmel/Zionsville location, we teach piano to every student.  At Indianapolis, all children learn the basics of the violin.  Additional private tutoring can be provided for interested children and parents, and is the only additional cost we ever charge our parents.

We believe in the power of mediation and yoga to bring clarity to budding young minds.  We have a certified yoga instructor on staff to help all children learn the basics of yoga.

Art is also a main focus at MMIA.  Art can be used to introduce new topics (weather, seasons, math, engineering) or just as a way for children to express themselves how they choose.  We have a certified art instructor at our schools, and emphasize arts throughout the year.  In summer, our camps – which are included in MMIA tuition – work to include art with STEM concepts.  To learn more about our summer camps, see our Camps page.

Our Playground

The last piece of the puzzle to our emphasis on play is our playground.  We believe in safety and accessible play for all ages, which is why we purchased the Landscape Structures Inclusive Playgrounds.  These top-of-line commercial playgrounds are the same ones that the Parks & Rec of Carmel and Zionsville use to keep children of all ages in mind.  Further, with our mulching of at least one foot deep, we ensure that children have a soft landing, reducing potential injuries.  Take a look at a few pictures of children enjoying our playground!

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If you are not familiar with the Montessori difference in education, please schedule a tour by clicking on the link below.  Take time to get to understand how our classrooms are different and decide if a Montessori education is the right kind of environment for your child.  And if you’re still undecided after a tour, we have free trials you can sign-up for as well so your child can come to MMIA for a day.

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