“When the child goes out, it is the world itself that offers itself to him. Let us take the child out to show him real things instead of making objects which represent ideas and closing them up in cupboards.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
Montessori had deep admiration for the natural world, she stresses the importance of grounding children in an understanding of themselves as a part of the greater universe. She believed that we best form an understanding of self when we understand the interconnectedness of all things— that true respect for self grows together with deep respect for others and for nature.
Our parents tell stories of when they were kids, playing outdoor all day long, going for long walks visiting relatives, and playing soccer with friend and neighbors. They went to water springs which Bahrain used to be famous for. Catching small fish in the seashore. Sleeping in the roof under the sparkling starts. When I was a kid, I used to go out with my little sister and nanny, buy a snack from the cold-store and play in a public yard with a nice fountain in the center. We rode bicycles, and played in a playground nearby. We could walk to our friends in the neighborhood 500 meters away. We had quite a lot of freedom without adult supervision.
Today, I only allow my children to go to the nearby playground if the weather is gentle, not too hot or cold and rainy. They can go with the nanny, and it's almost in front of our building. We both know how long it takes and I worry if he’s gone too long. When their friends come over, I prefer that if they play in the area that we have in front of our apartment which is still considered indoor, but at least sunlight can reach them through the glass door and windows, and there is convenient area to allow them to ride their bicycles. The one thing they may not do is come inside to play passively with smart devices. At first, it was hard to overlook their disappointment, but they've come to accept it and they’re more energetic and happier than ever! They’re less stressed, and more easygoing.
Now, that the weather is changing, it's an opportunity for us to at least choose open places for our kids to play instead of malls and cinemas. Nowadays, that kind of places are available everywhere, and there a wide set of option in Bahrain. Like parks where your kids play and you read your favorite book, or even some coffee-shops with outdoor terrace that has a garden and playground for kids to play, while you enjoy your time.
November is the best month for planting, so I suggest doing one of these planting activities that we are doing in Al Shorooq Preschool during this month, to connect your child even more to nature:
1- Growing lentil on cotton:
- Take a pot and put some dry lentils.
- Add some cotton or cloth (below or above) the lentils. The purpose is to have something that keeps the humidity.
- Keep your pot inside and make sure the cloth remains humid. After a couple of days, you will see that; the lentils have grown some little sprouts. Those are the roots.
- Take a pot, fill it with soil and carefully move the lentils in there. Make sure that the white roots are placed under the ground. After few days, your plants will look like this.
- Let the plants in a place with not too much sun. After three weeks, you will get some cute plants.
2- Grass House:
You will need:
- A bunch of ordinary household sponges (unused, standard size, varied colors)
- Magic marker
- Large plastic storage container
- Sharp scissors
- Craft knife
- Fast-growing grass seed
- Optional decorative accents
How you will make it:
- Make sure the new sponges are clean by rinsing them with clean water. Wring out, but do not dry fully.
- Draw the shapes to cut on the sponges using the magic marker (see images)
- Cut out the shapes using the scissors.
- To create the room, use a knife to cut most of the way through the sponge block to create the angle as shown. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
- Build the house on the inside of the plastic container’s lid.
- Spray the house very well with a water bottle so that it is damp throughout but not soaking.
- When wet, take a handful of grass seen and sprinkle it all over the sponges.
- Add a few extra sprays of water to the seeds and remove excess seeds from the container lid.
- Add the bottom of the container to create a mini greenhouse and position the unit in a warm place with sufficient of light. Water the grass as regularly as needed and trim it as it grows and.
Dr. Montessori said “But if for the physical life it is necessary to have the child exposed to the vivifying forces of nature, it is also essential for his psychical life to place the soul of the child in contact with creation.” It should, therefore, be no surprise that psychologists and scientists are finding that children who are out and about in nature reap numerous benefits ranging from the reduction of symptoms of ADD and hyperactivity to more self- discipline and self-esteem. Studies show that conservation-minded adults have spent a considerable amount of time in the wilderness.