Yes, it’s Montessori-inspired!
At Naya Nature, we have designed an out-of-school learning program based on 21st century research, primarily rooted in the work of nature researchers R. LOUV, founder of the ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ concept, and S. SAMPSON (our recommandation for his book here). And we also draw inspiration from the powerful thinking of Doctor Maria Montessori. Take a look at this comparative exercise!
FIVE GREAT SIMILARITIES, at least!…
1. Child-led learning
Both pedagogies foster individual experiences conducted at the child’s pace: for example, Naya Nature Mediators stand alongside, speak little, encourage questions, listen to the silence until an answer comes, wait for the child to lead, and guide without telling them what to do or like. In the two methods, priority is given to the exploration process versus ‘performance and the objectives to be achieved’. It means that patience and listening skills are the top qualities required to be a Montessori educator or a Naya Nature Mediator. Mixed-aged groups, present in both methods, are also a way to foster child-led learning: children often learn more from peers’ observations than from an adult’s explanations.
The two education methods strongly promote autonomy and responsibility, this is a stronger focus than what is taught within traditional school systems. Autonomy provides the opportunity for children to better evaluate risks, take responsibility from their actions, and learn how to adjust behaviour accordingly. At Naya Nature, they will climb tree trunks, swing on trees, jump over water holes or carry heavy branches. They will form EcoSquad and lead ecology-based missions to build a greener city. In family-time sessions, parents are taught to let go and observe how the child faces situations. In a Montessori classroom, children are responsible for their actions, they may take care of flowers, clean tables when the activity is over, etc. Both pedagogies believe in our children building a better world.
Did you know that Maria Montessori received a total of six nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize between 1949 and 1951?
3.Joy of learning
The Montessori method views the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge. Enthusiasm is the key driver Naya Nature will rely on. When children are strongly driven by something that matters to them, they focus more, which in turns helps them to learn and recall better. It is proven that the ability of children to learn to focus effectively and consistently is fundamental to their development into happier people. The way to generate enthusiasm among children is well explained in the book ‘Raising a wild child in the city’, written by S. SAMPSON.
‘The joy of learning is as indispensable to the intelligence as the runner’s breath’ – Maria Montessori
Hands on is the best way to learn according to Doctor Montessori. Naya Nature’s education relies on strong use of the five senses. Maria Montessori showed that exploration and manipulation of the environment develop a sharp sense of observation and enable children to grow critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In the living world of Beatrixpark, Naya Nature students will find a playground and learning area unlike any other. They will train to use their owl eyes, deer ears and dog flair, and learn things that books do not teach. They will taste the food from their own harvest too, with Naya Nature’s expert, Wies Tepee, an edible food specialist of Beatrixpark.
‘The child builds himself over time through the deep impressions he receives’ Maria Montessori
5. Creative thinking
Montessori schools help children develop divergent thinking with a prepared environment that allows children to understand how things work. This pedagogy lays the foundations for the cognitive processes necessary for creative endeavours. Naya Nature relies on a life-size environment to arouse curiosity among children, challenge their thinking of how the world works, and increase their problem-solving skills. Nature is a treasure of resources for today’s kids. Weekly outdoor experiences with Naya Nature develop children’s self-reliance and confidence, qualities needed to tackle great societal problems, like recycling issues or species’ extinctions. You will be proud of your children when they will work on team-projects and creative solutions to make an impact!
There are a lot more similarities like interdisciplinary work, ability to develop empathy and collaborative work between friends, but we had to make a choice! You can share your thoughts in comments!
… AND SOME DIFFERENCES:
Material is 100% natural
At Naya Nature Academy, toys and learning material are 100% natural: branches, ponds, natural bridges, wild life, dead trees, etc. On the contrary, Montessori method is about creating a prepared environment with specialised sensorial material aimed to develop learning by observation and use of the senses. As a matter of fact, Nature is important for Doctor Maria Montessori. Montessori materials are often made with raw material, especially wood. That is how she expresses her love of the outdoors:
‘A description, no picture, no book can replace the real view of the trees in a wood with all the life that unfolds around them.” Maria Montessori
Environment is 100% outdoor
Form a strategic point of view, the ‘environment’ is at the heart of the Montessori approach, in the sense that it’s the key driver to invite the children to develop their personal interests and engage in learning experiences. However, Montessori classes usually occur indoors, as in traditional education systems. Nature is present in the classroom, but there is a huge divide between learning indoors and learning outside the four walls of a classroom. New research found that the combination of daily light and open air, not only stimulates exercise, but also help children to focus better. Research show they are calmer after the outdoor session too! As parents, don’t we dream of quiet children at the end of the day?
CONNECTION is at the heart of Naya Nature’s philosophy
Naya Nature connects children to their own nature, then to others and the world around them. Nature-based education aims to primarily develop self-knowledge, so your children will learn a little bit about nature and A LOT MORE about themselves. Teaching respect for self leads to guide children managing their emotions, as well as others’. This pedagogy creates a natural ability to empathise, which in turn develops respect and love for the world around. It encourages people to take care of it too. Connection is not at the heart of the work of Doctor Maria Montessori, she would rather view the child at the centre of the education she promotes. As a consequence, the role of educators is to adapt their attitude towards the child to make sure it has enough freedom to express itself. That is why the Montessori environment around the child is prepared to facilitate joy of learning and engagement in what matters the most to the child.
Hope this gave you food for thought, please share your comments below 😉
This article was written by one of our contributors: Marine