Gables Montessori Blog

NATURE IN EDUCATION

Children are spending more time indoors than ever before in history due to a variety of factors as increased academic pressure in schools, many extracurricular activities, increased reliance on technology for entertainment and fear of being left alone outdoors. But it is known that the interaction between nature and kids is plenty of benefits. Humans are undoubtedly connected to nature and kids specially are fascinated by living things. So, education must integrate learning at school and learning out of it. Particularly in Montessori Method, connection to nature is an important and inspiring part of education and a way to reach the proper physical and psychological development

In Montessori classrooms, the guide is the person in charge of teaching the students the different ways of integrating the nature. The guide can incorporate daily outdoor explorations and  seasonal nature-related activities, also the guide may let children the access to Montessori botany and zoology materials, promote reading related to nature or gardening in a green house. Some studies suggest that increasing children’s interactions with nature might influence environmentally responsible lifestyles and promote children’s development as young naturalists. As Maria Montessori once said, “the land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the earth”.

There are certain conditions for learning outdoors. The environment should be a dynamic, flexible and versatile place where children can run, move, create, choose, change and be in charge of their playing place and time. One of the facilities should be a free access, so the transit to the indoors and outdoors occurs simultaneously. When children can play for hours in a naturalistic space, connection to nature is faster and spontaneous and motivates kids to take risks that enrich their learning. One of the followers of Montessori Method (Wilson, 2008) emphasizes that ¨teachers need to encourage children to get their hands dirty and experience their environment and the changing seasons, including the enjoyment of jumping around in piles of leaves or exploring with snow¨.

Time spent outdoors increases physical activity, healthy development and overall well-being in children. Nature is so important that simply a room with a view of a natural landscape, helps protect the psychological well-being of children. “When individuals develop normally, they plainly feel a love for all living creatures,” Montessori said it and also she believed that nature experiences  inspire and delight children. “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.” The method also indicates that contact with nature affords opportunities for rich sensorial experiences, a vital element of Montessori learning.

She believed that we best develop an understanding of ourselves when we understand the interconnectedness of all things. “I would therefore initiate teachers into the observation of the most simple forms of living things, which all those aids which science gives; I would make them microscopists; I would give them a knowledge of the cultivation of plants and train them to observe their physiology; I would direct their observation to insects, and would make them study the general laws of biology. And I would not have them concerned with theory alone, but would encourage them to work independently in laboratories and in the bosom of free Nature.”

 

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