Nature Inside The Montessori Environment
Stop and smell the flowers: Connecting to nature in the Montessori environment
Maria Montessori designed the indoor learning environments to meet the needs of children as they develop. Through meaningful, purposeful activities, children learn skills and techniques that aid them not only in childhood, but throughout all of life's stages.
The successful mastery of lessons gives children confidence in their developing independence and autonomy. While Montessori students are given plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors, they also take great joy in bringing nature into their indoor space.
The Benefits of Caring for Plants and Animals
Many people realize the effects of gardening and spending time in nature. Studies show that children and adults who spend time in nature daily are happier and healthier, both in terms of physical health and emotional wellbeing. Nature has a unique rejuvenatory power that children can benefit from in numerous ways.
When plants and flowers are integrated into a Montessori environment, they become treasured items that flourish under the nurturing care and watch of their child caregivers. What children learn from caring for plants and flowers is that investing the time to care for and nurture something produces a positive result. Whether in the form of a growing plant or a blooming flower, it is extremely rewarding for children to see their hard work and caring rewarded in nature.
Many Montessori environments incorporate animals too, so that children can have an even more concrete example of reciprocity as they witness the unconditional love and affection an animal has for its caregiver. Qualities of nurturing, caring, and being responsible for another living thing encourages applying those principles to larger themes such as other children, adults, and anyone they meet.
Values that Emerge from Time in Nature
When children experience live plants rather than plastic ones, they start to understand the value of nurturing. The responsibility of caring for something and seeing the results of that caring, or if the caring stops, is a valuable life lesson that teaches kindness and mindfulness.
Spending time with natural elements also encourages a healthy and positive connection to the natural world around them. Through the enjoyment of nature, it is a natural step to respecting it and others. Caring for nature is a great value to cultivate responsibility, respect and the importance of caring for our environment. These values translate to practical every-day life activities such as trying to keep our surroundings clean. Cultivating a sense of responsibility for our outer environment is akin to caring for our inner selves as well. Children respond to this philosophy as they see how valuable caring and nurturing are.
Nature Related Activities for Children
When it comes to positive experiences with nature for children, the options are endless. A simple walk to observe the trees, leaves, birds and sky can help encourage a healthy interest in the outdoors.
Planting seeds inside or outside, caring for them, and watching them grow and flourish under their care is a valuable teachable moment.
Even performing simple lawn care and maintenance around a school or home like raking and bagging leaves is an ideal means of teaching responsibility and the value of caring for our spaces.
Having children interact with animals, insects, or other critters from nature provides a valuable lesson through interacting and caring for our fellow inhabitants of the earth and nature. A popular activity in the classroom is to observe the metamorphosis from a chrysalis to a butterfly. Children are awed to see the transformative power of nature in action.
When it comes to nature inside the Montessori environment, interacting with plants, flowers, and animals provide valuable chances for children to cultivate the values of nurturing, responsibility, and environmental respect. These qualities translate to how they treat each other and themselves. Through caring, attention, and mindfulness, children learn that there is a great benefit to be experienced by caring for nature. Just as adults benefit from spending time in nature daily, children also are happier, healthier, and able to understand the transformative power of caring.