The Great Outdoors

“When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them up in cupboards.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Dr. Montessori was an early proponent of experiential learning and considered the outdoor environment a natural extension of the classroom. The Montessori connection makes sense: Contact with nature affords opportunities for rich sensorial experiences, a vital element of Montessori learning. It also supports the whole child—body, mind and soul—and promotes respect for all living things.  Dr. Montessori’s vision for schools was always a combination of indoor and outdoor classrooms. This was a way to study the interconnectedness of all things, a way for children to be able to study math and science, nature and the universe.

Montessori had deep reverence for the natural world, and her cosmic education curriculum, stresses the importance of grounding children in an understanding of themselves as a part of the greater universe.  She believed that we best develop an understanding of self when we understand the interconnectedness of all things— that true respect for self grows together with deep respect for others and for nature.

Observing the seasons change, especially from winter to spring is so interesting and exciting for the children. Noticing the leaves beginning to bud, the return of migratory birds and flowers blossoming gives us opportunities for new discoveries daily. As Earth Day approaches we are focusing on the importance of our role as caretakers for this beautiful planet. During our gatherings we are discussing ways we can care for the Earth. In the classroom we compost as much as we can and periodically take fruit and vegetable scraps out to the chickens. We use reusable cloths, dishes, and silverware for lunch and snacks. We would love to reduce the amount of trash and recycling that comes from our classrooms. If everyone worked toward packing lunch items in reusable containers (instead of individual packaging that needs to be recycled or thrown out) it would go a long way towards this goal.

Next week we will be sprucing up our outdoor area by pulling weeds and raking up leaves. We are excited to begin planting our new raised beds and are hoping to grow our own flowers for flower arranging next year.