Tuesday, April 24, 2018

“Modern observations and child-study have led us to realise that as soon as the child can go out of doors, we must take him with us.” M. Montessori
Our Local Park

Going outside is a vital part of a child’s development, per the Montessori philosphy. Maria Montessori wrote in one of her books: 
“Since life outdoors differs from life in a closed environment, a guide and an aim are necessary. In short, to go out, one must be ready for it.” 

When we take children outside, we show them real world examples instead of  framed picture of objects they can find outside. Most Montessori schools start field trips from the first grade, some even earlier. As parents, we can start taking kids outdoors from their birth. Of course, depending on the age and infancy of the child the experience may differ. In fact, I would recommend avoiding long and stressful trips for a child under the age of three. 
Every opportunity I have, I make it a point to take my three year old son everywhere I go . He enjoys grocery shopping, dry cleaner and post office runs. Everytime we visit a new place, he is quite inquisitive in asking a list of questions, learning new words, and experiencing a day in an adults life. We should not keep our children in a bubble environment with just bunch of toys. Their curious minds are capable of so much more. When I think of going out of the house, the children’s book Curious George comes to mind. Each chapter of the book has George and his friend visiting exciting places such as baseball games, tree planting ceremonies on Earth Day, pizza cooking birthday parties, science museums, and many more places. All of the above can’t happen on a daily basis, but they need to take place in our children lives once in a while. 

I would highlight four types of outdoor  experiences:

1. Everyday errands such as the post office, car wash, bank, grocery store, and doctor appointments… are one form of outdoor experiences.
Petco Store Visit

I remember taking my son for the first time to the dry cleaners. My husband usually picks up his dry cleaning garments after work. Recently he was busy and I offered to pick them up. My son was so excited and interested by every item at the dry cleaners... I never could imagine that a sewing machine, various colored  threads and plastic wrapping  for the pressed shirts would intrigue him so much. On our way home, he couldn’t stop talking about all the new things and people he had met. Rodion wouldn’t have experienced the  above if I simply read him a story about the dry cleaners. 

2. Outdoor experiences such as visits to: parks, beaches, city walks, camping and fishing trips, and mountains and snow excursions.
Beautiful Sunset...

Being in and around nature is our best teaching experience. Such trips provide an amazing sensorial experiences for our children at any age.  Maria Montessori wrote, “When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.” Most parents would concur with the fact that when children spend a portion of their day outdoors this balance makes them happier throughout the day.  For the first six months of my children’s lives, they primarily took naps outdoors during different seasons and had an enjoyable time doing so.

3. Special events such as concerts, the ballet, circus, talent shows, or art exhibitions are other excellent  ways to enjoy outdoor moments.

A friend of mine once said, “I take my child with me to the ballet and various shows as I want them to see many different aspects of beauty.”  At the theatre, children learn how to recognize and appreciate what other people think and feel. It teaches them to recognize the emotions of others and sense artistic beauty in personal engagements and conversations. Begin attending with your children short shows and explain to them in advance what they should expect to see. For example, before I took my son for the first time to the Nutcracker ballet, I shared with him the original story written by E.Hoffmann in colorful details. It made him very excited and curious to attend the upcoming Nutcracker performance.

4. Lastly, trips to the zoo, aquarium, science museums, libraries and other educational experiences
Science Museum

We do not need to wait until our child attends their first school field trip to have such an experience. If possible, try to plan one such trip per month. There are many membership opportunities but I found that my young children prefer new places to visit rather than continuously return to the same museum or aquarium. At the beginning of the year, when we record our  new year resolution, plan your memorable family excursions.  It will make it easier not to forget about them throughout  the year.

There are other ways to take your child outdoors by traveling around the world, taking them toweddings, or simply including them in any or all of your events. You do not have to plan something special. Often my children are excited by the simple opportunity to feed the ducks at our local park. Ultimately, these end up as our most fond memories.

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