The Montessori classroom is uniquely suited for teaching preschoolers about cooperation through games. First, Montessori is focused on play-based learning, and secondly, classroom activities are designed to encourage the children to act in cooperation. We will look at a few examples of play-based cooperation to give you a better idea of how the two concepts work in conjunction.
The Importance of Play-Based LearningIt is a misstatement to say that Maria Montessori developed the idea of play-based learning. What she did was observe children learning and playing, and realized that children, especially the younger ones, are learning while they play. Maria thought that playing simply enhanced a natural inquisitiveness, but today we know that the release of dopamine in the brain while doing enjoyable things allows children to learn faster and more dependably. Either way, there is ample evidence that playing games helps children master the Three-C’s of Collaboration, Cooperation, and Communication.
CollaborationAn exciting game for a small group of children involves keeping a small ball on a flat surface and maneuvering it into a hole or “home” position. The children have to learn to work together to move the ball without dumping it off the edge, which teaches collaboration, cooperation, and communication skills at the same time. A variation of this game is to create a maze on the surface using straws and paste, and then guide the ball through the maze.
CooperationCooperative games can be anything from team relays to gardening or building things. Working together helps children learn that you can get more accomplished when you cooperate and teaches them concepts such as division of labor and planning. A 3-legged race is a cooperative game, but building a sand castle could be as well.
CommunicationClassic games such as “I Spy” build communication skills. But a more exciting game is to divide the class into teams and let half the teams “hide treasure” and draw a pirate map, while the other team tries to figure out how to follow the map. The kids can have fun with the map, such as adding directions like “turn around in a circle 3 times.” The excitement of following the directions should be as much fun as actually finding the treasure.
The best learning experiences come from combining new discoveries or concepts with enjoyable activities. This is how children have always learned, and it is a practice which has been shown to produce results. The games do not need to be complex, but they should rely on a certain amount of interaction. Regardless of the theme of the game, the ultimate goal is to show children how working as a team can be the best solution to a problem. To learn more about the Montessori Method, contact Montessori Children's House today and schedule a tour.