As Montessorians, we call it “work”, however, the child refers to it as “play”. We encourage play with a purpose, meaning that we want each work and lesson that the child receives to have some sort of developmental purpose. While it’s healthy for our children to play with toys and use their creative imaginations, children are happiest when they’re actions provide a purpose; knowing all the while that they are a needed member of the community. Today’s modern society provides an abundance of over-stimulating, electronic toys and hand-held technological devices that take away from “true” play time. Children need to work (or play) with their hands and connect with nature, practicing skills that will help them later in life, such as social and emotional development, definition of fine and gross motor skills, creative thinking, and so forth. It’s important to recognize and understand the “play needs” of each child under your care so that you can foster an environment catered to each of their developmental needs.
This is a great article providing tips on how to promote healthy play within your children:
“Play Is The Work of the Child” Maria Montessori
Play activities are essential to healthy development for children and adolescents. Research shows that 75% of brain development occurs after birth. The activities engaged in by children both stimulate and influence the pattern of the connections made between the nerve cells. This process influences the development of fine and gross motor skills, language, socialization, personal awareness, emotional well-being, creativity, problem solving and learning ability.