Play-Based Learning Philosophies

By Natasha Grogan, Founder of Playful By Design

Play comes naturally to children. It is amazing to observe children exploring their worlds through play. As parents, we have an opportunity to create a home that encourages play and learning through carefully choosing what toys, media and activities we present. There are many philosophers, psychologists, doctors and educators who have done research on the benefits of play with children. New research is released every week on the power of play, all which points to how play-based learning is a gift to children and how their brain naturally learns. Many preschools, daycares and home educators, like to have a “base” or a direction with how they design the environment for play.

Maria Montessori was born in Italy in 1870. She developed a method of teaching that focuses on independence and child self-realization. She believed in guiding them, rather than directing them. Montessori believed that the best way to teach a child a skills was to prepare them to learn by teaching the actions or movements required to perform them. Since the 1970’s more and more Montessori based classrooms have been carefully designed. These classrooms are often multi-aged and showcase a beautiful prepared environment.

Loris Malaquzzi was also born in Italy. He founded the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. This method is rooted in the belief that children are people with the power and ability to create their own knowledge. It is very focused on discovery, arts and children’s interests. Reggio schools often have a relaxed approach to academics and encourage a great deal of play and project-based learning.

Rudolf Steiner is the philosopher that the Waldorf Education model is based upon. Waldorf is often thought of as a whimsical and “wonder-like” method of educating in the early years. Waldorf educators often use the term “heart, hands and mind” as it relates to how integrated arts, nature and play should be in a learning day. An interesting component of Waldorf’s academic philosophy is that Rudolf Steiner recommended waiting until a child is seven years until academics, such as reading, are taught. Waldorf schools and families are often very flow and rhythm based.

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who encouraged a liberal arts curriculum.  The Charlotte Mason philosophy is home-based, not classroom-based. The three main pillars of this method are literature, time outdoors and habit training.  She also believed in waiting until six or seven for formal academics. Instead she believed that children should learn along-side their parents, spend great amounts of time observing nature and reading beautiful literature.

Play on, families. Every opportunity that you give your child to play, is an opportunity for them to learn and grow.

About the Author: Natasha Grogan, Founder of Playful by Design

When I’m not playing with Lydia, I sneak in some work. You see, I’m a self proclaimed child development nerd. I love learning about developmental levels and how the activities and environment that we create effects our brain function.  I believe that childhood should be cherished, dirt is meant to be played in and songs are meant to be sung.

I research, I consult and I pour my heart into helping others learn mindful ways to help their little ones play and grow. My focus is on helping families create a happy home through gentle habit formation, family rhythm and minimalism.

And just in case you were wondering… I can be bribed by black coffee, raspberries and salvage wood furniture.

Here are links to follow Natasha’s blog, Facebook and Instagram!

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