Spontaneous Observer of Nature

Table of Content

“Given the progress of technology and limited exposure to nature, it is vital for children, who possess a natural inclination to observe their environment, to have access to resources that foster exploration. The natural world largely facilitates the growth of sensory, cognitive, gross, and motor skills in young kids. Schools have an essential responsibility in providing captivating information and incentives to promote active engagement.”

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, a child, who is a natural observer of nature, requires materials to work with from an early age. Children start exploring their environment right after birth, even though they may seem helpless and immobile in their cribs. They engage in invisible explorations through their senses of hearing and looking. The child’s mind has the capacity to absorb knowledge and the ability to teach themselves. A single observation serves as sufficient evidence of this.

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The child learns their parent’s language effortlessly, while adults consider learning a language a significant intellectual accomplishment. There is no formal instruction given to the child. The Montessori method aims to foster the child’s sensory and cognitive abilities, as well as improve their practical life skills and character. From birth until age six, children possess an extraordinary capacity, referred to as the Absorbent Mind, to absorb and comprehend their surroundings effortlessly and without conscious effort.

According to Montessori (1949: 84-85), the child absorbs impressions not only with their mind but with their life itself, which helps shape their personality and develop their cognitive abilities such as memory, understanding, and thinking. Montessori’s observations led her to uncover that even though young children may not exhibit signs of it in everyday settings, they are capable of extended periods of concentration. Despite their tendency to be careless and messy, children positively respond to an environment characterized by calmness and order. Montessori also noticed that the young child’s love for a consistent routine translates into a desire for an organized space where everything has its place. The children she observed took pleasure in carefully handling their work materials and moved through the rooms with caution, in contrast to their wild behaviors on the streets. Ultimately, Montessori discovered that the environment itself played a crucial role in achieving the observed results.

Not wanting to use heavy school desks, she had carpenters construct child-sized tables and chairs. She was the pioneer in this endeavor, understanding the inconvenience and annoyance that young children face in an environment designed for adults. Eventually, she further expanded her innovation by developing entire schools tailored to the size of the children. Miniature pitchers and bowls were provided, along with knives specifically designed for tiny hands. Additionally, the tables were lightweight, allowing two children to easily move them on their own. As a result of these accommodations, the children became adept at controlling their movements, as they disliked the disruption caused by accidentally bumping into the furniture.

Montessori carefully assessed the flow of movement within the rooms, strategically organizing the furniture and activity zones to decrease congestion and reduce the risk of accidents. A popular choice among the children was sitting on the floor, so Montessori purchased small rugs to specify their individual workspaces. As a result, the children quickly grasped the concept of stepping around work set out on another child’s designated rug. This mindful approach towards optimizing the environment was implemented throughout the entire school building and outdoor areas. Montessori took into consideration the children’s needs by integrating child-sized toilets and sinks, windows set at a lower height, shelves that were easily accessible, as well as an array of small-scale hand tools and gardening equipment.

Many ideas were later adopted by the wider education community, especially in nursery and kindergarten settings. Numerous puzzles and educational tools used in pre-school and elementary schools today directly stem from Montessori’s initial concepts. Yet, much of her work remains untapped, and modern educators seeking innovative and more efficient solutions are increasingly intrigued by the wealth of experience within the Montessori community.

According to the Montessori method, self-motivation and autoeducation are the key elements. The approach asserts that if placed in a suitable environment with appropriate materials, a child will learn naturally. These materials comprise of “learning games” tailored to the child’s abilities and interests. The teacher-observer responsible for setting up these materials only offers individual assistance when necessary. Consequently, Montessori educators aim to overturn the traditional dynamic of an active teacher teaching a passive class.

In a Montessori school, the classroom is equipped with various games and toys, household utensils, plants and animals that are cared for by the children, as well as child-sized furniture. It is widely believed that Dr. Montessori invented child-sized furniture. Additionally, Montessori educators emphasize physical exercise and believe that developing motor skills should accompany sensory and intellectual abilities. The foundation of the Montessori system is primarily based on Dr. Montessori’s writings such as The Montessori Method (1912), Pedagogical Anthropology (1913), The Advanced Montessori Method (2 vol. 1917), and The Secret of Childhood (1936). However, it is important to strike a balance between freedom without focus or direction and organization and discipline without restricting a child’s preferences and choices. These principles must interact harmoniously with each other. Ultimately, the goal of childhood education in a Montessori setting is to nurture an independent individual who can regulate themselves freely. Children naturally strive for functional independence and should be supported in gradually achieving higher levels of it.

Emphasizing the importance of independence in children is essential instead of giving them everything. It is crucial for children to comprehend how to coexist harmoniously with their surroundings. A method to accomplish this is by enabling children to choose and focus on a task that completely captivates them. Even difficult or rebellious children exhibit beneficial changes such as heightened enthusiasm, generosity, and helpfulness towards their peers when they engage in meaningful work collectively. In Montessori classrooms, teachers carefully prepare every aspect.

The prepared environment in a classroom for children must contain all the necessary elements for their learning at each stage of development, without any unnecessary or distracting items. Key features of the prepared environment include beauty, order, simplicity, and accessibility. Objects are vibrant, shiny, and engaging to the senses. Furniture is child-sized and lightweight, allowing children to easily move it around the classroom as they wish. Additionally, having a trained teacher and a sufficient number of children is essential in creating a prepared environment.

According to Montessori (AMI website; Hainstock 1997), it is crucial for children to be part of age groups that are slightly different from their own. This age difference is believed to promote mutual cooperation and learning. The furniture and other items in the room are all designed to be smaller and suitable for children. A sink with running water is positioned at the child’s level. The room contains around one thousand captivating didactic “activities” displayed on low shelves, inviting the child to explore and engage their mind. Notably, no toys are present in the room.

The child-sized brooms, dustpans, buckets, and mops have the same purpose as their adult counterparts. The teacher’s primary responsibility is to observe and assist the child in expressing themselves. From her perspective, education is not solely influenced by the teacher but rather happens naturally within each individual at their own speed. The teacher’s role includes establishing a classroom environment that fosters happiness and stimulation while directing and motivating children in their endeavors. This method enables children to develop confidence and self-discipline.

At every educational level, the teacher’s role changes from actively displaying materials and presenting activities to becoming a “constructive observer” who determines when and how much intervention is necessary. Additionally, classrooms can include gardens with vegetables, herbs, and flowers for gardening activities. This allows children to independently choose which plants they want to grow, helping them gain knowledge about plant growth and develop important skills in plant care while also promoting environmental responsibility.

In a similar way, the classroom can include a pet corner where children can bring their pets. This allows children to learn about the specific dietary needs of different types of animals and understand that animals rely on humans for care. Additionally, the classroom can have an atlas corner where children can explore geography and learn about various cultures around the world. Itard’s renowned work delves into the remarkable journey of educating a mentally disabled individual and rescuing a child from a state of uncivilized behavior.

The Savage of Aveyron was a neglected child who was raised in a completely natural environment. Itard, a physician with a passion for philosophy and a specialization in the deficiencies of deaf mutes, took on the responsibility of educating the boy. He employed methods that had previously shown partial success in restoring hearing to individuals with severe hearing impairments.

Itard divided the boy’s education into two stages. The first stage aimed to integrate him into regular societal life. In the second stage, Itard endeavored to educate the intellectual capacity of the mentally handicapped individual.

The boy found joy in rain, storms, snow, and endless vistas as they were the focus of his vision, compassion, and love. Engaging in civic life involves giving up these pleasures, but it also brings about progress for humanity. Itard aimed to civilize the child by providing a nurturing environment. Initially, it was believed that nature only had a moral impact on a child’s education. Attempts were made to cultivate a sensible reaction to the wonders of nature, including flowers, plants, animals, landscapes, winds, and light.

The most important thing to do is to liberate the child, if possible, from the constraints that confine them in the isolated and artificial life of a city. This discovery of the child, as stated on page 67. Let the children be liberated, encourage them to freely roam outside even when it is raining. Let them take off their shoes when they come across a puddle of water and let them run on and tread upon the grassy meadows dampened with dew using their bare feet. The strength of even the smallest children exceeds our expectations, but it must have the opportunity to manifest itself through unrestricted play. When children have contact with nature, their strength becomes evident.

The role of nature in school education can focus a child’s attention on specific objects that illustrate the extent to which they have developed a passion for nature. Children naturally have a concern for living beings, and fulfilling this instinct brings them joy. As a result, it is effortless to engage them in the care of plants and animals. By understanding that animals rely on them and that plants wither without water, children establish a new bond of love that connects present moments with those of the future.

Children have a genuine affection for flowers, but they must do more than just admire their vibrant petals. They derive the most joy from actively engaging with nature, acquiring knowledge, and exploring its allure beyond external beauty. Even young children enjoy collecting olives and contribute to the cause by diligently searching for fallen fruits, which they neatly place in baskets. Through these hands-on experiences, children develop an interest in sowing seeds on a larger scale, finding gratification in witnessing the growth of numerous delicate and tender plants, which captivate both their sight and intellect.

Work for a child should have diversity and appeal to their natural curiosity. Even if they don’t understand the reasons behind certain tasks, they can still be engaged by simple actions that have a tangible outcome or require special effort. The Montessori classroom is a dynamic and child-focused space designed to encourage exploration and independent, hands-on learning. Children have the opportunity to discover and learn at their own speed, based on their individual needs, interests, talents, and readiness.

Their work involves incorporating real-life activities with a sense of purpose alongside the utilization of scientifically formulated, self-correcting materials. Children effortlessly absorb information from their environment, learn most effectively through their own physical activity and senses, continually strive to become more capable and independent, progress through predictable stages of development while maintaining their individuality, and go through “sensitive periods” for learning particular concepts (Mastro Montessori).

Children of various ages, ranging from younger to older students, beginners to experienced learners, coexist in a classroom. The younger ones acquire knowledge through observation and imitation of their older peers. When needed, these elder classmates willingly offer assistance. Furthermore, they willingly share their expertise and actively engage in activities to enhance their own learning. As a result, the classroom transforms into a harmonious community where children of different age groups embrace one another with kindness and respect.

Our objective is to establish an outdoor setting that promotes children’s innate curiosity and motivates them to explore their surroundings. We firmly believe in incorporating various elements, including water, rocks, wood, sand, stones, grass, and bark, to nurture their connection with nature. As part of this endeavor, we can construct a pond featuring a waterfall which will introduce them to aquatic plants and animals. This presents an opportunity for them to acquire knowledge about significant topics like water pollution and conservation. Additionally, we encourage children to assume responsibility for the welfare of these aquatic life forms. Ultimately, the success of our outdoor area relies on offering purposeful and captivating hands-on activities that are genuine and practical.

We need to create a structured environment where children can discover things by themselves. Montessori calls this the “prepared environment,” which means setting up a space that enables children to learn and explore independently. This type of environment offers a range of different activities and allows for plenty of movement. Tools, materials, and activities are neatly arranged on shelves, easily accessible to children. They are also organized and visually appealing. These tools and activities are always available for the children to use.

Gardening, animal care, nature discovery, and physical activities are integrated into the living landscape. As the environment developed, sustainable practices like recycling and waste reduction became a part of children’s environmental care. Our outdoor environment should be designed to cater to a child’s innate curiosity for exploring the world. It should incorporate natural elements such as water, rock, wood, sand, stone, grass, and bark to encourage further exploration of nature.

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Spontaneous Observer of Nature. (2017, Mar 10). Retrieved from


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