Encouraging children to explore the natural world is an important aspect of their development. According to the Montessori philosophy, this helps children connect with other living things and fosters self-motivated growth.
The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction.
As a former teacher, I have been influenced by the Montessori teaching method and have tried to incorporate its philosophies in my parenting. A simple way to encourage this at home is by giving children space to explore and a few affordable supplies.
Determine a space
Originally, my kids would take kitchen tools and dig randomly throughout the yard. This created problems and unwanted messes. Provide some structure by communicating what spaces they are allowed to use (e.g. where they can dig and plants they can collect), and then encourage independence and discovery.
Provide kid-friendly tools
Kids don’t need too many tools to create and explore. For a simple kit, I recommend a bucket, durable garden tools, a colander, and a watering can. Additional items that are fun include seeds and an insect container.
16 qt bucket with handle
Garden tool set
Collapsible silicone colander
Edible flowers seed packets
Insect magnifying container
Metal watering can
My kids love watching seeds sprout, making clay creations from separated dirt, creating fairy houses out of sticks, finding worms & roly-polies, making homemade “paint” from flowers, and collecting interesting rocks, leaves, and seasonal tree droppings. It isn’t anything very spectacular, but it’s a way for them to connect with nature.
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 it’s 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.