“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature,” Maria Montessori wrote in The Secret of Childhood. “Speeding up the march of progress and at the same time being in touch with Nature create a difficult social problem.”
Eighty years later, we face this problem every time we choose between sunshine and screen time. Even outdoors, it can take some effort to find Montessori’s tactile experience amid the rubberized surfaces of our local playgrounds.
“Let the children be free,” Montessori wrote. “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 it’s shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.”
If your child came home sandy, muddy, or slightly damp this week, it was in pursuit of those very experiences. The recent storm created a stream as well as some delightful puddles on the big playground, and it was amazing to watch our young engineers at work, learning about physics, teamwork, construction, geology…all without an iPad in sight.
|Want to increase your family’s dose of vitamin N? Volunteer for Heartwood’s Day of Service in the Spring, check out the work of Richard Louv, or pack a picnic lunch and go exploring. Try Hideaway Woods at the Museum of Life & Science, or the NC Museum of Art, which offers outdoor exhibits and miles of trails for free.|