This term we were inspired by the recent Montessori Conference, held in Queensland, that focused on play. When we think of play in a traditional setting we define it as “having fun”, “being with friends” or “not working”. In Montessori environments we turn that idea on its head and say that work is play and play is work! While reflecting on this we have changed our morning work cycle this term and have opened the outdoor and indoor environments to the children. We encourage the children to access all areas of the classroom and the freedom to move between the two learning environments. Maria Montessori herself said:
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 wet 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 its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.
Maria Montessori “The Discovery of the Child”, Ballantine Books, 1972, page 71
While trailing this new approach we noticed that the children easily fall back into our old routine of working inside after morning tea, this might be in part due to the Sensitive Period of Order that starts at around the age of 2. This is characterised by a desire for consistency and repetition and a passionate love for established routines. The children are happiest when the environment is carefully ordered with a place for everything and with established ground rules that are consistent and followed.
We are really enjoying the new routine and following the interests of the children, some children might spend the morning playing in the dirt, while others are busy grating cheese and spreading hummus. We observe the children and ensure that they have a balanced morning where they are able to follow their own interests and develop new and emerging skills.
It truly is a pleasure to spend the morning with these delightful children, where no two days are the same!