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Montessori Education: Creating a Garden with Your Child

Nature is an important element of a Montessori education. When you watch a seed grow into a flower, you get to witness one of the many miracles of nature. In the same way, seeing something you nourish with the proper nutrients develop into something beautiful is exciting and gives you a sense of accomplishment. At Montessori Academy at Sharon Springs, our outdoor garden allows our students to experience these feelings daily.

A great way to incorporate these environmental principles of a Montessori education outside the classroom is by creating your own garden at home. By creating a small garden in your yard with your children, you can share these joyous feelings with your little ones and expose them to the wonders of nature.

What to Grow with Your Child

While there are dozens of different crops that can be planted in a backyard garden, it is a good idea to choose crops that are easy to grow, grow relatively quickly, and are fun to harvest. In this way, children do not lose interest in the garden because it is taking too long for it to grow.

One of the best crops for a child to grow is a sunflower because it begins sprouting in one week, and once it is taller, it will grow hundreds of seeds that can be eaten or replanted. Not to mention, the vibrant yellow color of the flower’s bloom is beautiful to look at every day. Lettuce and snow peas are other great options because they grow quickly as well as deepen a child’s appreciation for vegetables. Many children tend to love cherry tomatoes and carrots because they are particularly fun to harvest and eat!

Tips for Gardening with Your Child

In order to make gardening a fun experience for your child, there are several things you can do. Give your child their own gardening plot or put them in charge of a particular crop. This will keep them engaged, as they will feel responsible for their section of the garden. Giving your child real gardening tools instead of the plastic one made for kids is usually a better idea – as long as you are supervising – because the plastic ones break easily and often frustrate the child. This also makes your child feel that their work in the garden is just as important as yours.

Instead of buying garden starters, you should begin by planting real seeds. This will help your child gain a better understanding of a plant’s life cycle and feel a greater sense of accomplishment once they harvest their crop.

Lastly, you can help your child build a scarecrow for the garden. This is especially useful if your child starts to become bored with gardening, since it will help regain their interest in protecting their crops.

Virtues Learned from Gardening

There are several important virtues of a Montessori education that your child will learn from gardening. Growing a crop does not happen overnight; it requires patience, dedication, and hard work. A child will learn that they must continue taking care of their crop in order for it to grow. They will enjoy seeing it blossom as it goes through different stages of its life, but they must continue nurturing it in order for it to fully grow, bloom, and produce fruits or vegetables.

Children will also learn responsibility and ownership through an at-home Montessori education involving the environment. If they are put in charge of growing a particular crop, that crop becomes their responsibility and they will feel a sense of ownership over it. Once it is fully grown and harvested, they will feel proud that their hard work created something useful for their family. Studies have shown that children who garden are happier and more confident in their abilities.

 

How Do We Meet Current Research Data? – Part 3: How Children Can Participate in Their Own Curriculum Planning

Today, we continue our series entitled How Do We Meet Current Research Data?, exploring how the latest brain and education research impacts curriculum and learning, with Part 3 of the series: How Children Can Participate in Their Own Curriculum Planning.

The more input we have from the children in curriculum planning, the closer we come to achieving deeper meaning for students since it connects them to real-world experiences. Children become actively engaged in their learning when they are allowed the luxury of defining curriculum content, when they are able to move in academic directions that interest them, and when they actually do something. The elementary model of Montessori curriculum clearly allows for the child to make decisions in his own learning by making content choices. When a child is interested in a specific topic, he is free to research the topic. Through research, students acquire language skills such as reading, writing, and composing, and are able to manipulate and problem solve through self-directed exploration. Children also have opportunities to use technology to make their content more meaningful. Computers offer virtually unlimited opportunities for accessing information, and should be used to enhance, not replace, discovery and learning.

Next Monday: The Value of the Child’s Process vs. the Product

Previous posts in this series:
How Do We Meet Current Research Data? – Part 1

Part 2: Ways to Create an Optimal Learning Environment

The First of the Five Great Lessons: The Story of Creation

The Five Great Lessons are a key part of the Montessori Lower Elementary curriculum. Designed to both introduce the child to large concepts and illustrate how smaller ideas and elements are a part of the whole, the Great Lessons provide an overview of history, from the beginning of the universe to the developments, discoveries, and achievements of mankind. These exciting lessons inspire a sense of wonder in the student and encourage an understanding of the purpose of more specific areas of study as an integral part of a larger framework. The Great Lessons are presented each year to build familiarity as students progress through the Lower Elementary classroom.

The Great Lessons are not connected to a particular religious viewpoint; rather, they are designed to develop in the students an awareness and respect of the human journey, and a desire to explore and seek truth in the world around them. Tying in with our character education, the Great Lessons teach diversity of life on earth, basic needs, and the interconnectedness of all living things.

The first of the Five Great Lessons, the Story of Creation, tells the story of the origins of the universe. Below is a video illustrating the Story of Creation as it shared in the Lower Elementary classroom.