Gardening for the Mind

posted Mar 19, 2013, 12:21 PM by Amy E

To some, the garden is a place to grow a tasty dinner. For us, the garden is a place to foster the imagination and learning of a child. 

The Montessori Method of education involves a lot of hands-on learning and these lessons may not always look the way a traditionally educated person would expect. We believe in real-time, real world lessons that are played out using the objects of life. Instead of learning our math with number symbols, we use beads containing actual amounts and translate those ideas to the symbols. Instead of learning about botany from a dry textbook we touch, smell, and grow our lessons.

The garden provides an opportunity for young children to learn about natural cycles and weather, all stages of plant life, math and even history. It allows them the chance to practice their research and scientific observation skills, to witness life in action and question the why's and what's of it all. Montessori education endeavors to spark this questioning part of the child's mind so that in the future they will know they have the power to search out the truth for themselves, and maybe even make new discoveries that will benefit all of mankind.

The children at Alpine Montessori grow and maintain their own garden areas with the guidance of their teachers. Even if you don't have a large yard, you can extend your child's gardening work to your home. Consider allocating a part of your yard for your child to use as their very own vegetable or flower garden - helping to provide food or beauty for the family gives them a sense of value and pride. If you don't have a yard or have a very small or unsuitable yard, a couple of containers can hold flowers, a tomato plant, or even a trellised squash or bean plant. Whether their garden flourishes or struggles, it will be a learning experience for all involved - ideally a learning experience that will go on for the rest of their lives.