Another cornerstone of the Montessori method is to find opportunities to engage with and explore our world. The outdoor environment is a wonderful place to learn and grow. Some of the learning is structured, such as examining the growth of plants. Right now, the fifth years are monitoring spartina plants that are growing in a hydroponic tank. They are taking weekly measurements as well as ensuring that the environment maintained for optimum growth. This allows them to learn about plant needs as well as alternate growing environments.
Another learning opportunity for learning occurs when the students are left to their own devices and interactions. The students have an opportunity to work on their social-emotional skills. Recess is a vital time for student growth. What they perceive as free time and a break from learning, we know that it is so much more than that. Something we tend to think of as simple has a profound effect of each young person. This is the time when they are in control of their own actions. It is a time for decision making and practicing grace and courtesy. Free play and exploration is often a challenge, because peer interactions are a challenge! The students have to think for themselves and work together. The students also have to communicate effectively, and sometimes disagreements occur. Even in moments of disagreement, the students are learning and growing. It is amazing to see them problem solve so they can enjoy their time together in play.
It is so important to understand that there is learning happening all around us! Students may not even realize that they are doing it, but it is their work and it lays a foundation for future social interactions. Any opportunity to interact is an opportunity to learn whether it is with their peers, plant life, or any other part of the physical world. From these learning opportunities, the children will grow into well-rounded adults with a care for our planet and it’s people.