When most parents think about Montessori environments, they picture either the Montessori classroom, filled with colorful toys and learning tools, or the Montessori playground, once again groomed to appeal to a young child's interest. However, during the warmer months, it is more likely that you may enroll your child in a summer program that takes longer field trips away from the controlled Montessori environment into nature.
Maria Montessori strongly advocated for outdoor play so children could understand the patterns and harmony found in nature while developing their physical skills. Below are three ways that your child's time in nature should adhere to the Montessori method.
Liberty Within Wide Parameters
One of the core principles of the Montessori method is that the child should be free to roam and explore their environment. This is why classrooms are set up in such a way that there is nothing within reach that is off-limits to the children, and children do not have to ask for permission or assistance to access activities and toys. Similarly, your child's time in nature should not consist of their teachers constantly setting boundaries.
For example, a summer program should frequent a park that is not near roadways, so children have plenty of space to explore without fear of injury. Similarly, the teachers should allow activities such as climbing, jumping, and running in a protected area, such as on the beach or in a grassy field.
Just as the child should choose what they do inside the classroom and how much time they spend on a particular activity, the child should choose what they do outside of the classroom. While the teacher may guide your child by suggesting activities or pointing out interesting phenomena, they should spend more time listening to your child and answering their questions about the environment.
You may think that a well-prepared outdoor environment is a Montessori playground. However, taking the children into wild nature fulfills the purpose of the well-prepared environment, which is to set up activities that will teach your child vital skills in a natural way. Instead of preparing the environment, it is important to have well-prepared teachers, who can recognize various natural phenomena and turn them into learning moments for your curious child.
Finding a summer program that emphasizes outdoor time is important for most parents. However, you may want to check whether your child's summer program follows Montessori methods when they are in the outdoor environment.
For more information, contact Miniapple International Montessori School or a similar location.