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Forest Friday: Children Monitor Natural World

Free a child’s potential and you will transform him into the world.”

 

Maria Montessori’s quote resonated with me as I watched 18 little people plot how they were going to explore the forest around them. It is clear to the observer that when children are immersed in nature, they are their most truest selves. There is no pretense… Everything happens as it unfolds. Children have the opportunity to take on new roles: scientists poke sticks into the forest floor and wonder…”what lives here?” Workers and constructors carry large logs and wonder “how do we make a lean-to?” Problem solvers look around and wonder “who needs my help right now?” Fairies dance while musicians find a beat with two sticks. Observers take it all in.

 

In this natural surrounding, some aspects will stay the same. The tall pine trees will always be there to welcome the children to the expanse of the forest. The bridge and trail will continue to invite exploration. Many aspects, however, will change. The weather will grow colder and the stream may come and go with the changing rainfall. The vernal pools will pop up in the Spring and disappear with the summer’s steamy rays. Some trees will lose their leaves, their branches, their trunks. Animals may leave behind traces of their presence. The natural world is ever changing, adapting, and so we humans learn to adapt as well.

 

Like animals preparing for winter torpor, children develop the ability to monitor their natural world when exposed to this ever-changing environment over time.
This experience of deep exploration develops a child’s courage and resiliency allowing them to continue their natural explorations while also asking and answering big questions about the changing landscape around them. They take bold steps and try new adventures on for size. They learn about themselves as risk takers, scientists, and observers.

 

And all they had to do was go outside to play.

 

-Heather Vinci

(Primary Lead Teacher Birch Room & Level Leader)