Nature is a wonder-filled environment for Montessori preschool children to learn from. There are things to do, experiments to conduct, new discoveries to be made, and more. And on top of everything else, fresh air and sunshine have been shown to improve mood, increase learning retention, and more. This is why nature is such a big part of Montessori education, and these are a few quick examples of how getting outdoors benefits childhood development.
- Physical Activity
Running, jumping, and climbing help develop important gross motor skills while gripping small objects and turning over rocks involves fine motor skills. Outdoor activity offers plenty of reasons for children to do both, whether they are playing a group game or looking for bugs in the grass. In turn, physical activity has been shown to increase retention, and foster intrinsic motivation, enabling children to think and act more independently.
- Cognitive Development
Exploring and thinking about the many wonders of the world helps children develop several cognitive skills, including critical thinking, creative application, and the use of academic skills like math and reading. Encouraging children to “ask every question” helps them learn about relationships in nature, how plants and insects live, and more.
- Nature in Academics
Nature is the original classroom of preschool children, and the Montessori Method works to bring back the best parts of natural learning. Through games and treasure hunts, through learning about insects and growing a terrarium, children learn to count, sort, spell, write, pronounce, and understand many different facets of the world. Since children are born without any of that knowledge, they are eager to see and do everything they can.
- Developing Social Skills
Outdoor activities involve varying amounts of independent and team effort. It helps children learn to share, communicate effectively, speak clearly, and convey meaning. From asking permission to working as a group, nature has enjoyable activities for every situation.
Nature makes it easier for children to learn to count, it builds stronger vocabularies, and it gives them incentives to develop physically and socially. Compared to more stagnant forms of education that revolve around spending the day moving from one desk to another, nature is able to generate more enthusiasm and promote self-involvement.