THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017
It’s finally beginning to feel like autumn around here, and we love seeing our students put on their hats and gloves before heading out to the woods to play. Led by Tim Walsh, an outdoor educator with decades of experience developing and leading adventure-based programs for children and adults, the Morning Outdoor Program at Washington Montessori School is an extremely popular ritual here.
Students arrive on campus an hour early to explore the great outdoors together. Tim leads them in a variety of cooperative games and teaches them cool skills like how to build a campfire with twigs and leaves (they’ve been known to cook some pretty good breakfasts out there in the woods). Perhaps most importantly, the Morning Outdoor Program inspires students to enjoy all that nature has to offer—in all types of weather!
Maria Montessori had a deep reverence for the natural world and believed it provides unparalleled opportunities for rich sensorial experiences—a vital element of Montessori learning. In an era dominated by technology, we believe it is even more important to provide as many opportunities to enjoy the natural world as possible. We believe there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. We believe that children who play outside (in all types of weather, especially) are more positive, more creative and more resilient.
“Challenging weather creates real and perceived risks, and so risk creates opportunity for growth. Because risks teach. They have real consequences that ask us to be aware; aware of ourselves, others, and nature,” says Andrew McMartin, Executive Director at the PINE Project in Tortonto, ON. “This type of risk is a rare opportunity for children today. Most challenges, risks, and hurdles are swiftly removed from childhood in efforts to prevent anything bad from happening to the kids we love. But this may be robbing children of life’s challenges and not preparing them for the realities of being an adult.”
The benefits of playing outdoors are well-documented. Outdoor play is known to boost learning, to develop creativity, to encourage independence, to support social skills, to bolster immune systems and to promote a respect for our natural world. The Morning Outdoor Program is one of several ways we get our students outdoors.
The Morning Outdoor Program meets on Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30. Tim escorts all students to their classrooms.