April 8, 2019
Dear Monti Kids Family,
Every April, I travel to Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark for the Lego Ideas Conference, an incredibly fun and inspiring meeting of 300 leaders in the field of learning through play. We gather with the top researchers and practitioners to investigate how to bring playful learning experiences into the lives of more children. As Dr. Maria Montessori said over 100 years ago, “Play is the work of childhood.” The genius of the Montessori method is that it allows children to learn about the world through play with precisely designed materials that ignite their innate curiosities and meet their developmental needs.
Educating through play helps to preserve our children’s love of learning, which is one of the best gifts we can give them. When I was teaching Montessori preschool, the six-year-olds in my class were doing long division through playing with beads. We did not call it long division, but they had a deep understanding of the process, and, best of all, they were excited about it. There is a huge body of research on the benefits of guided play for young children, including advances in language development, executive function, and brain growth itself.
Play is a universal need – even for adults. While many of us know how important it is for our children to play, we may forget to make time for play in our own lives. As Brian Sutton-Smith said, “The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.” When I make time to play, whether it’s turning off my phone and sinking into a fun activity with my kids, going to my dance class, or going to dinner with friends, it helps me bring my best self to my work and to motherhood. So as I write to you from my pirate-themed hotel room at Legoland in Billund, I wish you a month filled with play!
Follow Zahra on Instagram.