I posted a couple of weeks ago about Tee’s first day of preschool. It’s mid-September now, and she’s just starting to settle in to her new routine. We try to keep our home and family life healthy and environmentally responsible, but how do we extend that philosophy outside of our home? How do we maintain our green living and natural parenting principles when our daughter leaves the sheltered environment of our home and goes to school?
To start with, we chose a Montessori preschool, in large part because Montessori educational practices are based on an understanding of children’s innate desire to learn and drive for self-direction. The cornerstone of the Montessori philosophy is respect for the child. Learning goals and activities are driven by the child’s interests and developmental readiness.
While Dr. Montessori lived before terms like “natural parenting” and “green living” became trendy, her writings reveal her deep respect for children’s natural development and for nature. She recommended that children’s learning needs be met when possible by going out into the natural world rather than being pent up inside a classroom. Montessori classrooms prefer to use natural materials like real wood, bamboo, metal, glass, and cotton over plastic or other synthetics. The local Montessori programs I’ve visited have all emphasized humans’ interdependence with our environment as well as each other, and they include environmental studies in their curricula.
I’ve mentioned before that my family is lucky enough to live in an area with several family farms nearby. We buy local, no spray fruit and veggies for Tee to take to school for her snack. Of course, we pack those snacks in stainless steel containers and reusable cloth snack bags. At her school, snack is shared amongst all the kids which means sometimes she gets foods I wouldn’t normally pick for her. I supervise her diet the rest of the time, so I’m not too worried about that in the grand scheme of things. Tee is learning to share and make friends with other kids. It’s also an opportunity for her to learn about making food choices.
The best part is that Tee’s preschool is within walking distance, so I pop Kay into the baby carrier and we walk, rain or shine, to drop her off and pick her up. Not only is this a great opportunity for Tee to get to know her neighbourhood and practice life skills like crossing the street safely, but we also get to bird watch and check out how the leaves are starting to change colours. And on the way home, we get to reconnect and talk about what happened school that day. I make two round trips every day she’s in school so it’s also great exercise for me!
All in all, I’m very excited about this next step in our parenting journey. The world gets bigger, but our values remain steadfast.
Your turn now. How do you extend your values into your child’s (or your own) classroom?