What is your definition of “well-grounded”? We might say that an individual who is well-grounded has a firm foundation: one who is solid, positive and steady. As parents and educators, indeed, our hope for our children is that they are well-grounded. And Dr. Maria Montessori envisioned that trait for children as well but her definition of “well-grounded” goes perhaps a step further.
Dr. Montessori was an early proponent of the value of outdoor learning. “Well-grounded” children, she thought, are those who are connected with nature…to the ground, we might say. The land is where our roots are. She saw an outdoor environment as an extension of the indoor prepared environment. The connection to the natural world gives children the opportunity to understand and appreciate life in all its forms. The connectedness of the child with the earth cultivates curiosity, enhances awareness of the world and offers the child real, hands-on experiences.
The Primary learning environments do not stop at our doors: instead, we utilize the best classroom in the world….the world itself. We offer our children the chance to take a step beyond, to breathe the fresh air, to experiment with land, air and water. Outside is where we can dig in the dirt, cultivate and grow plants, to see seasonal changes. Walking the nature trail, listening to the sound of birds, caring for tiny seedlings and waiting with anticipation for their growth and development and learning about the needs of all living things mirrors the development of the child. A respect for life, said Dr. Montessori, develops and enhances a child’s understanding of the earth and everything that lives upon it. Offer the world to the child and he or she will be an eager participant in the needs of all life – by showing a desire to make a difference. Now that’s well-grounded.
We are fortunate to have Mrs. Molly Wimmer as the well-grounded parent volunteer and coordinator of the outdoor classroom. The arrival of Spring gives us the chance to enjoy , to experiment and learn outside once again. Tuesdays and Thursdays find both Primary classrooms eager to do just that. But Ms. Molly can’t do it alone! Please consider volunteering to help. Let your child’s contact teacher know if you can help.