Learning with Nature
By Annie Carlson, Director Montessori Academy of Glen Ellyn
Nature: Part of a Well- Rounded Education
I was thrilled to accompany the Summer Camp students on their ramble through Springbrook Nature Center in July. As explorers, from age three to sixty-three, we felt the calming influence of Nature as we enjoyed the colorful flowers, the smell of the fresh air, and the sound of bees buzzing on our leisurely walk to the farm area. When children feel calm and relaxed their brains are more receptive to new learning experiences.
At the Student’s Pace
As we approached a pond near the path, the thought to hurry along to our destination briefly crossed my mind. But these children reminded me that getting there is part of the journey! The adults hovered as the children boldly walked right up to the pond (and beyond in one case) to get as close as possible to the turtles sunning themselves on a log. We were surprised by perfectly camouflaged frogs jumping into the water inches away from our feet. As we watched the ripples disappear, we became aware of the peacefulness of the water lilies on the still water.
Older Students Solidify Knowledge by Teaching Others
When we passed the pond again on the way back from the farm, the “call of the wild” was still so strong that the children insisted that we stop and look for the turtles sunning, the frogs jumping. As we approached the pond again, the elementary students shared how to look for the nostrils of the frog just above the water line. Then you could see them before they jumped! I was struck by the care and guidance given by the older students to encourage and guide the younger explorers.
Nature brings out the best in all of us! Get out there!
As we neared the end of our walk, the youngest child was singing a happy song, though this was his naptime, as he stopped along the path to spend unhurried time with nature. The students were energized not tired!