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Learning Philosophy Play Based vs. Montessori

Choosing the best learning philosophy for young children
When looking for a child care centre in Sydney is in no short supply.  It can be difficult to narrow the options.  Parent’s look at everything from safety, sanitation, class ratios, and learning philosophies.  After all, there is nothing more precious to us, than our littles. Without a doubt, our biggest challenge as parents is to educate our children.  And not just facts and figures, but character and overall well-being.   As far as nonacademic philosophies are concerned, there are two predominate options for early education: Montessori and Play based.
Montessori Philosophy
Montessori philosophy works off the premise that all people are curious by nature and love to learn.  The idea here is to use educators to support and guide the learning process, while allowing students to have limited control over the pace and subjects they learn. Montessori schools utilize multi-age classrooms to encourage peer based learning and social interactions.  The work is rigorous and teacher planning is meticulous, however, the students are expected to use their curiosity to learn concepts on a “life application” basis. An example of what a student might experience in a Montessori setting is to walk into a room with a selection of several different activities for the day.  They select an activity based entirely on their preference.  The student may opt to work alone or with peers.  While at the activity station, there is work to be done to achieve competency in the skill.  The child may play with the activity for as long as they like and then move on to another station.  As the child works at a station, teachers are available for guidance, but do not place time limits on the projects.
Play Based Learning
Although a relative newcomer, play based learning is quickly gaining popularity. Play based learning utilizes the act of play to learn academic, social, and emotional concepts.  The idea is to reinforce a positive outlook on the learning process and teach children the social and character values necessary for successful adulthood. Rather than logic and problem solving, play based learning aims at emotionally preparing a young brain for learning.  New research on the human brain suggests that children are better able to learn and grasp concepts, if they are emotionally competent.  By experiencing real life interactions and scenarios, students of play based learning are better able to regulate their behavior and adjust to the demands of primary school.  Some experts corroborate the claims of play based learning advocates, by proposing early education and pre-school to be a time of emotion learning.  If the emotional foundation is properly set, the capacity for academic education in the later years is optimized.  
Both philosophies utilize a child’s love of play and natural curiosity to foster a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. The main difference is in the degree of structure and weight placed on the act of play itself, however both styles are well respected. Recently, even Australia’s public school has recognized the positive effects of alternative styles of education.  In 2014, Australia implemented a progressive curriculum.  

Like most philosophies and beliefs, no two definitions are ever exactly the same, however this guide exploring the differences between Montessori and Play based philosophies should better acquaint you with their core approaches and help you to prepare interview questions for your top choices.  

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