by Heather Brostron, Primary Directress
Despite the fact that there is snow in the forecast….Spring is here! In our classrooms we are sowing seeds, viewing roots and looking out for nesting birds. It is a time of rebirth and planning for the warm months to come.
Here at school, your children will have many opportunities to extend the “classroom” to the world outdoors and I hope they will have the same opportunity at home. Time for free play and exploration outdoors is essential; how about a garden?
Any child, no matter how big or small, can find a job in the garden. In the beginning there is raking and weeding the seasons’ past debris from the land. Loosening and working the soil with tools (or even your hands!) comes next, as well as planning what will go in the ground when the time is right. It was in this stage that I once witnessed a very hesitant little girl decide she was not worried about getting dirty after all!
Of course the work in the garden progresses to planting and maintaining the plants you decide on. This involves watering and weeding, trimming and, well, care. It is through all of this effort and love that you will begin to realize your child is becoming an observer of life, finding a connection to the environment on a very real level. With this respect will grow a feeling of responsibility as they are engaged by our natural world.
“It often happens to children – and sometimes to gardeners – that they are given gifts of value of which they do not perceive until much later.” ~Wayne Winterrowd
In the end (or perhaps ongoing) there is a harvest, and what a joyful moment this is. All of the work, care and time you’ve spent resulting in something. A reward of sorts that can be eaten or smelled, admired or arranged. Flowers, fruit or vegetables – no matter – from seed to fruit is an amazing process. Imagine the pride as you make a salad with fresh lettuce or fill a vase with fresh daisies!
The garden is rich with “teachable moments”. A trampled or uprooted plant due to no accident is not a disaster but a chance to examine how it differs from the hearty growing ones. What if the plants don’t get enough water? How about too much? Do the plants’ leaves wilt if they are in too bright of sun? For the older child, components of the soil can be explored. Think of the language involved describing measurements, colors, textures, etc. as well as the new vocabulary available in the names of the plants, tools and procedures.
Dr. Montessori herself wrote to the effect that a child’s connection to her environment is critical to the child’s well being. I invite you to take these words to heart and spend some time in the dirt with your child this spring and summer. It will be immensely beneficial for all involved and will create memories that will last a lifetime.