5 Reasons Nature Matters In A Montessori Environment

Nature In A Montessori Environment

Nature in a Montessori environment offers children what they need to thrive.

This ideal classroom enhances children’s development — from the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch to a sense of purpose. It promotes physical strength and a connection with nature. In her writing “Nature in Education,” Maria Montessori wrote that “when children come in contact with nature, they reveal their strength.”

Here are five reasons why nature plays an integral role in a Montessori education:

Nature in a Montessori Environment

1. Nature Promotes Sensory Development

Dr. Montessori taught that children make valuable discoveries from their environments through the absorbent mind. A nature-focused environment provides the ideal setting to develop their senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Nature in a Montessori EnvironmentImagine the rich, cidery smell of fallen apples. Ombre reds and yellow-orange leaves fluttering in the breeze. Damp, grainy soil squishing between tiny toes. The exhilarating “crunch” when little feet jump into heaps of crisp leaves. Nature enhances all of the child’s developing senses.

These early sensory play experiences build connections in children’s developing brains and prepare them for learning as they grow.

2. Nature in a Montessori Environment Promotes a Sense of Purpose

Nature provides opportunities to engage in practical life activities. These reality-based activities promote an unshakable sense of purpose and self-worth.

When a child waters a droopy plant, then finds it standing strong and refreshed a few hours later, they internalize a priceless lesson: that their actions matter. As he gingerly collects fresh tomatoes for a family meal, he relishes that one-of-a-kind sense of value that comes from contributing.

Nature in a Montessori environment

Children discover something that they couldn’t in a “keep-out-of-Mom’s-way” setting. They learn that their own work is important.

3. Nature In A Montessori Environment Promotes a Sense of Self-Confidence

Children develop a sense of independence by working with nature in a Montessori environment. They grow priceless I-can-do-it confidence in their knowledge, in their movements, and in themselves.

When children know where to find the faucet and how to turn it on, how full to fill the watering can, and how to walk smoothly to avoid spilling it before they reach the garden, they become self-assured. As they master how to maneuver a shovel or spread a pinch of seeds, they develop faith in themselves.

In Montessori, children learn that they can.

4. Enhanced Strength and Coordination

Dr. Montessori urged us to allow children free movement in order to access meaningful learning experiences. Regularly spending time in nature helps children promote strength, fitness, and muscle coordination.

Children tug stubborn weeds, dig holes, and haul watering cans. They pick fruits, lug veggies, rake leaves, and jump. Children measure, pour, balance, walk, run, climb, and roll.

Then they refuel with sunlight and fresh air and repeat.

5. Children Learn to Love, Not Fear, Nature

Those of us who didn’t grow up in a nature-rich environment now find ourselves feeling awkward and “out of touch” outdoors.

Dr. Montessori wisely assessed:

Actually, nature frightens most people. They fear the air and the sun as if they were mortal enemies. They fear the frost at night as if it were a snake hidden in the grass. They fear the rain as if it were fire. Civilized man is a kind of contented prisoner, and if now he is warned that he should enjoy nature for his own health, he does so timidly and with his eyes on the alert for any danger. To sleep in the open, to expose oneself to the winds and to the rains, to defy the sun, and to take a dip in the water are all things about which one can talk but which one does not always put into practice.

Rain sends us running for cover, but the bright sun also offends us. Cold snow sends us shivering to our living rooms but so does the heat of summer. We feel lost outside, afraid of grass stains, irritated by the feel of soil on our hands, and squeamish about eating home-grown veggies because we know that they’ve touched dirt.

Children grow to feel as awkward in nature as new bakers feel in the kitchen unless we get them outside. And just as reading a cookbook can’t turn us into competent chefs, reading textbooks about nature cannot help our children feel at home outdoors.

Dr. Montessori knew that a true love for nature must be developed through first-hand experiences:

As a matter of fact, a child needs to live naturally and not simply have a knowledge of nature.

Take Dr. Montessori’s Advice

Nature in a Montessori environment

In Maria Montessori’s own beautiful words:

Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping.

Brandi Faith is a freelance writer who holds a Master of Education degree. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University in Psychology and Spanish. Brandi passionately applies Montessori principles to her parenting and teaching at home. She loves the way Montessori philosophy encourages children to take charge of their learning and pursue their interests. Her favorite thing about Montessori is watching her kids’ eyes light up with joy and interest as they explore and experiment, and seeing their smiles light the room when they master a new skill.

Leave Us A Comment


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We make Montessori easy for you!

Join our Newsletter and get our exclusive guide for FREE!

An essential and beautiful guide for easily incorporating Montessori methods into your home.

Montessori Parent

Read More