Connectedness in the Montessori Classroom
“Since it has been … necessary to give so much to the child, let us give him a vision of the whole universe. The universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions…. All things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. The idea helps the mind of the child to become focused, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied having found the universal center of himself with all things.” – Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential
Montessori coined the phrase “cosmic education.” It may sound a bit strange or outer space related, but it actually refers to the approach which develops one’s awareness that everything in the universe is connected and interdependent, and forms a harmonious whole to which everyone is a part and contributes.
In the two- and three-year-old classroom environment, cosmic education is present in every aspect of a child’s experiences. It’s a depth to each experience that adults can facilitate by talking about how things relate to each other. It begins with an infant’s and toddler’s natural connection to the earth, nature and other people. Exposure to nature and the natural world, using all one’s senses, is a way to invite toddlers to feel connected in their world. We can spend lots of time outdoors in nature, feeling connected and present in the moment, employ mindfulness strategies and encourage social cooperation and interaction to help a child build his feelings of connectedness and sense of identity, place and interdependency.
The children had a great visit to the “Elephant Tree” this week. Together with Miss Janey and our 8th grade friends, Dimitra and Lily, (whom the children absolutely adore!), we ventured around the stone wall on Friday and found the great Elephant Tree. (It is actually a revered beech tree on our kind neighbor’s property, but the magic was real as the children discovered the huge, gray, wrinkled “Elephant Tree” under Miss Janey’s enchanting direction.)
-The Mulberry Room (Toddler) Teachers