Montessori and Nature: A visit from Sophie Thomson
Last Friday Sophie Thomson from Gardening Australia and Jo Staniforth from Foodbank SA visited our school to donate planting boxes, potting mix and plants. We had a lovely afternoon planting up the boxes and I would like to thank all the children who helped; not only were they enthusiastic, but consistently helpful and polite. I would also like to thank Stephen Wallace who helped with the heavy lifting and managed to work out why I couldn’t turn the hose on! Sophie was very impressed with the design of our new play area and our happy chickens. We are very lucky to have such a beautiful, natural outdoor environment and are very keen to work to improve it.
Dr Montessori believed in the child “living in nature”. She argued that the natural environment provides both a physical and sensorial stimulus for children. Immersion in this natural world creates a greater understanding of the world and the nature of humans, and empathy for nature, providing a strong foundation for environmental concern, leading to ecologically responsible citizens. The outside environment of the Montessori school should be one that is aesthetically pleasing and yet offers opportunities for play. It should provide rich sensorial experiences and opportunities for experiential outdoor learning.
Small children can discover for themselves plants, insects, birds and small animals. They form an understanding and awareness of the seasons and life cycles as they see plants growing from seeds, flowering and fruiting and ultimately dying. These early experiences allow the child to develop an appreciation for ecological systems, and unconsciously prepare the child for meaningful studies when they are older, of botany, zoology, geography etc.