“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth” – Maria Montessori
The largest misconception of Montessori is that it’s about the neatly prepared trays and expensive materials. The truth is that Montessori at its heart is about respect for the child, while offering them a way of learning that invites intrigue and delights the senses.
You don’t need fancy materials to do this. You simply go outside.
Running through grass, wading in streams, jumping in leaves, listening to bird song. Nature is our children’s greatest sensorial classroom.
If nature play beyond the playground is something new for your family, here are some activities to try.
Either laying on a blanket or being carried, infants love using their senses to take in the natural world. This aids in the beginnings of concentration. An important concept in Montessori. Sitting on a blanket in a quiet spot whether in the middle of the forest, or simply on a park bench, will open up your child’s world to so many new things. They will use all their senses to take in the world around them. As a side note, much research has been published that suggests babies who get outside time every day may sleep better at night.
6 months-12 months
Older babies love using their sense of touch to explore the world. Giving them different objects from nature such as rocks, feathers, and leaves piques their curiosity and also offers them a chance to practice their pincer grip and many other fine motor opportunities.
Young children are in such an amazing space for growth. Nature provides everything they need in their journey for natural development. Rocks, twigs and other treasures can be gathered in a basket to carry during this incredibly important “maximum effort” period. Allowing your child to stop and listen to different sounds builds vocabulary.
This age was designed for being outside! Running, jumping, wading, swinging. There are so many benefits for your child you may not even realize. Persistence, concentration, co-operation, imagination. These skills are all built when a child plays outside. There is no need to create activities for this age. They will lead the way. It is so important for this age group that many Pediatric societies around the world advise that a child should be getting 60 minutes of daily outdoor physical activity. As a side note, there have been many studies published (as far back as 2009 in the NY Times) that have confirmed children of this age group have better classroom behavior the more time they spend outside at recess.
A child of this age is able to map, follow instructions and lead an exploration. Adventure is the name of the game here! Whether in the backyard or the middle of a National Park, children this age are forming key memories that will shape their adult selves. Giving them the time and the tools to be in nature opens up so many opportunities for them. Something to be mindful of: children in their middle school years who have access to and spend more time in nature are less prone to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and are less likely to be involved in crime.
“There must be provision for a child to have contact with nature; to understand the order, the harmony, the beauty in nature.” – Maria Montessori
There is so much beauty in this world. Sharing it with a child is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
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