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Play-Based Learning vs. Montessori

Renowned psychologist, Jean Piaget, determined that children learn best through play. At Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies we’ve developed hands-on learning experiences for all levels of learners.

Who were Piaget and Montessori?

A Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, identified different stages of mental growth of children. A child’s main concern in the early years was learning about physical objects and gaining motor control. As he grows, the child becomes more intrigued by communication–verbal skills, words, writing, and learning to read. As time goes on, abstract concepts such as relationships and logical reasoning are introduced and dealt with by the child.  Piaget’s method is most often called “hands on”, “theme based” or “center based” learning.

An Italian woman, Marie Montessori, developed a successful teaching method for working with mentally handicapped children who had very short attention spans. Her method today focuses on giving children a great deal of freedom and requiring only a brief attention span. When interested, a child may choose an activity to participate in and is free to leave the activity when interest decreases. Montessori believes a child can learn from self-discovery alone and without direction from a teacher.

Montessori’s and Piaget’s methods are very similar for children under the age of three. Emphasizing the development of motor skills using manipulative or “hands on” activities and lessons, both methods give children the freedom of choice and movement and are appropriate for a child’s short attention span. The methods differ in Piaget’s (Kids ‘R’ Kids) use of a scheduled naptime where all children lay down for a quiet time whereas Montessori’s method allows children to determine for themselves whether or not they need a nap. Piaget does not have older children in the toddler’s classrooms whereas Montessori often groups two-year-olds through five-year-olds together in the same classroom.

The differences in the teaching philosophies of Montessori and Piaget become apparent at preschool age. The child chooses what he wants to do and for how long in the “child-directed” activities of a Montessori classroom.

Kids ‘R’ Kids Piaget classrooms have advanced academic materials, teacher-directed lessons and incorporates “child-directed” activities as well. Routine is established to acknowledge there is a “time” to teach math, a “time” to do music, etc.  “Finishing your work” is a life skill concept developed. It is believed that routine helps children develop an inner self-discipline, though flexibility strongly remains in this method. The Piaget philosophy of learning better prepares children for the rigorous and high expectations of education from primary school through the college years and beyond.



Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies (Piaget)

  • Uses manipulative or “hands on” activities to emphasize motor and verbal skill development. Lessons give children relative freedom of movement.
  • Both child-directed and teacher-directed.  Playtime, teaching time and naps occur on a schedule.
  • Follows the “Love and Logic” method of Redirection as a discipline tool.
  • Children are grouped by age.


  • Child-directed.  No scheduled learning times. When and how long to learn, play and nap is determined by child.
  • Uses manipulative or “hands on” activities to emphasize motor and verbal skill development.
  • Lessons allow relative freedom of movement for children.
  • Grouped in mixed ages: children from 2 years through 5 years are together.
  • No specific discipline tool, self-education experienced through self-correcting.



Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies (Piaget)

  • Both child-directed and teacher-directed
  • Age-specific Curriculum and Classrooms
  • Role-play and realistic social experiences encouraged
  • Research-Based, hands-on method of teaching is adapted to each individual child’s needs
  • Follows the “Love and Logic” method of Redirection as a tool for discipline
  • Freedom to speak (without disturbing others) as he pleases
  • Freedom to explore and move about the classroom while also having scheduled circle times


  • Child-directed only
  • Children of various ages in the same classroom
  • Less social experiences allowed, more individualized learning
  • Unstructured and flexible method of teaching
  • No specific discipline tool, self-education experienced through self-correcting
  • Silence is encouraged even at times of snack and lunch
  • No scheduled learning times