Choosing Between Montessori Activities vs Open-Ended Play

It can be difficult to choose the right early learning centre for your child. You want a facility that will allow them to mature at their own rate, ensure they have fun, yet still challenge them to learn more. In the past the choice was limited, most early learning centres had the same approach.

Today, the best places, such as this early learning Croydon, offer more options and child-focused learning. Two of the most popular are Montessori and Open-ended play.

In order for you to choose between them, you need to understand what they are.


The Montessori classroom doesn’t bear a lot of resemblance to the traditional classroom. Of course, there are desks and chairs. But, the atmosphere is decidedly noisier and it seems more fun.

This type of facility aims to educate children through play. However, the play is all focused on learning genuine physical skills.

For example, newcomers to a Montessori classroom are likely to find established children making snacks or perhaps showing newcomers how to hang a coat, turn a tap on, or even add numbers together. The Montessori teacher is there to offer different activities to children. It gives the child choice while helping them to learn age-appropriate skills.

Open-Ended Play

The main difference between Montessori and open-ended play is that the latter focuses solely on play. In short, an open-ended play classroom encourages children to play and follow the play’s natural process. There are no rules and no limits to imagination.

In short, play can be practical learning but it can also be fantasy and pretend or dress-up activities.

Are the Two Compatible?

On the face of it, these two approaches to education seem very different. But, it should be noted that the main differences are in how play is approached.

Open-ended play allows a child to play at something, such as washing dishes, and then follow their imagination. In contrast, Montessori play encourages them to repeat the activity as much as they like to gain mastery of it. There is no goal other than the enjoyment of doing the activity but it creates a needed physical skill.

Children don’t have to engage in group activities or even in play. The teacher will give them the activity options and the freedom to choose for themselves. This allows them to say no if they wish.

In contrast, an open play school will insist that children play and use their imagination. That can take the edge of the joy of playing.

Perhaps the best way to see the difference is that Montessori schools provide children with opportunities to learn about the real world and what is possible. They may not be able to do what they hear about yet, but it allows them to imagine themselves conquering real-world skills. This gives them purpose and something to strive for, effectively driving them toward success in life.

Both methods of teaching will help your child. Montessori leans more toward practical skills while open-ended play encourages creative skills. That is perhaps what you need to decide between when choosing the right place to send your child.

Feature Image By smailik12

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