The new Michael Olaf newsletter has fascinating information on exposing children of all ages to the wonders of Mother Nature. In Montessori, subjects generally taught in high school, such as biology, are made accessible to even the youngest children. We identify the child’s “sensitive periods” (windows of opportunity in which the child is driven to develop certain psychological/cognitive characteristics) and “teach to the sensitive periods” by providing aspects of each subject that will interest the child and therefore satisfy his development.
Thus, the very young child, who is driven by his senses, is introduced to biology through a sensorial exploration of smells, tastes, sights, sounds, and textures. The pre-school child, with his hunger for words, will learn the names of leaves, animals, and body parts with lightning speed. In elementary, the child is driven to classify the plant and animal kingdom, and to experiment in order to satisfy his burning desire to know “why, why, why”.
Instead of segregating and restricting subjects to certain age groups, we should challenge ourselves to find out how to bring all subjects to all age groups in a meaningful and appropriate way.