The outside world provides numerous opportunities for our children. While embracing technological advancement has benefits, it’s important to strike a healthy balance.
The American Montessori Foundation emphasizes the significance of Montessori outdoor activities to enhance cognitive as well as physical development.
With the Montessori method – a systematic approach that implements hands-on learning – our children are exposed to the outside environment for social and emotional growth.
This self-directed approach boosts mental and physical health and encourages children to connect with nature deeply.
Taking this approach into consideration, we have assimilated some benefits of Montessori outdoor play and some ways to incorporate it into your home.
Why is Outdoor Play Important in Montessori
The natural environment greatly influences a toddler’s mind. Whether they are directly or indirectly interacting with external elements, a child learns to experience all of their senses.
The Montessori philosophy, as promulgated by Dr. Maria Montessori, focuses on nature-based play to enhance learning for Montessori students.
She advocated for children to interact with the outdoor elements to improve their overall health and fitness. The Montessori method uses this child-led approach to improve practical life skills by blurring the lines between the indoors and outdoors.
Let’s learn the benefits of outdoor play in detail.
What are the Benefits of Outdoor Play?
We all know how a brisk walk through a park greatly boosts our physical and mental health.
Just like us, kids who are generally active throughout their childhood develop a healthy attitude that influences all aspects of their lives. Listed below are some of the benefits of outdoor play.
Motor Skill Development
Most of us already ingrain some basic motor skills into our child’s daily routine, such as getting out of bed and using our hands to eat food.
Fine motor skills like opening doors and windows, washing our hands, and brushing our teeth require coordination and dexterity.
Montessori outdoor play gives children the outdoor space they need to develop motor skills. In addition, they are able to face their fears and become independent by performing numerous outdoor tasks. Children learn to adapt to the natural environment and push their limits while operating on their own.
Regardless of age, physical activity always has a positive impact on our body and mind.
According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), toddlers in the 3-5 years age group need to be active throughout the day. Children older than 6 years require at least 60 minutes of physical activity throughout the day.
Spending time outside has a great impact on the growth of their brains and engages their sensory and executive function. To ensure that your mind enjoys spending time in the outdoor space, make use of Montessori outdoor play equipment to boost muscle memory.
As the Montessori method focuses on a hands-on learning experience, outside play promotes sensory awareness. An outdoor classroom presents extensive benefits for a child, especially when they are actively involved with the environment.
Outdoor play activities such as gardening may involve children getting dirty and wet, which heightens their senses where smells, textures, light, and noise may be different.
In outdoor spaces, children are able to use their imagination for creative games and try out different activities. Experiencing the colors and sounds of nature can help improve sensory engagement and spatial awareness.
Improved Peer-to-Peer Relationships
Outdoor play helps children build a sense of independence.
In an outdoor classroom, children are presented with Montessori outdoor activities. These activities often challenge our kids to push their limits and form valuable relationships with their peers.
Creative games such as a scavenger hunt or other group activities test their cooperation and socialization skills. With increased fun and group learning activities, children learn to build valuable friendships while developing an individual identity.
Appreciation for Nature
Playing freely outdoors opens the doors to limitless creativity. When children are actively immersing themselves in their immediate surroundings, they are able to notice the beauty of nature.
As they gradually learn about the different elements of nature and engage in nature-based play, children develop a deep connection with the natural forces throughout their lives.
The Montessori philosophy believes that the outdoors is an extension of a classroom and contributes to the overall learning process. Hence, children are able to engage with natural forces and form a deep connection with them.
How to Use Outdoor Play with Your Child
Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with the benefits of outdoor play, let’s look at some ways we can incorporate outdoor play into our child’s day-to-day routine.
Children are visual learners, so participating in outdoor activities helps them experience the world with all their senses. Some ways you can implement Montessori outdoor play in an outdoor environment are listed below.
- Introduce sensory & imaginative Play: Since we are on the subject of sensory awareness, let’s learn how to introduce sensory play in a Montessori outdoor playground. Providing a gardening set or a sandbox encourages children to use their imagination and engage with their senses.
- Use nature-based play equipment: Allowing kids to interact with natural resources helps them expand their horizons through physical exploration. Nature play can include fun activities like finding specific objects or a scavenger hunt, enabling kids to explore and learn. An all-in-one nature exploration kit is useful for creating an outdoor adventure!
- Make an obstacle course: The best way to introduce physical activity is to create an adventurous obstacle course. An obstacle course improves coordination, balance, and strength. You can create one with a set of climbing holds, stepping stones, balance beams, jump ropes, and pikler triangles.
If you are on a tight budget, you can even reap the benefits of outdoor play in a Montessori outdoor playground. Most playgrounds have fun exercise equipment that encourages creative movement and gets their energy out.
When it comes to children and outdoor play, the possibilities are unlimited. Allowing toddlers to get creative in outdoor spaces can foster independence and confidence.
Regular exercise can thoroughly boost mental and physical health and develop key motor skills in the long run. So, let’s get our children out there to explore the outside world!