Montessori philosophy places tremendous emphasis on caring for and understanding the natural world. Educating students to understand the related science and moral responsibility of sustainability is woven into everything the Chiaravalle community does. Toddlers tend to the garden. Preschoolers sort recycling. Elementary children work to restore endangered prairie lands. Upper Elementary and Middle School students take outdoor education trips.
When Montessorians use the phrase “outdoor education,” it’s meant in the broadest sense — not as nature study, but as a study that encompasses all disciplines, from science and literature to music and art, taking place in the built and natural world.
Each year, Chiaravalle Upper El and Middle School students take multi-day experiences at Montessori farm locations that specialize in outdoor education. Middle School students travel to Amstutz Farm in Elizabeth, IL, for four days and three nights of a hands-on, country experience. The farm is a Montessori prepared environment where our students will have full access to the property’s pastures, woods, gardens, and orchards and will engage in meaningful tasks on a working farm. Projects include garden prep, moving animals, construction and repair, and baking. Students who choose Beacon Academy for high school will have the opportunity to return to Amstutz Farm.
Upper Elementary students travel to Nature’s Classroom in Wisconsin. Nature’s Classroom is a large enough program to enable all Upper El students to share the outdoor education experience to learn. Founded in 1996, Nature’s Classroom has developed a rich curriculum that ensures students have a unique experience each time they visit.
Outdoor education gives students more than a break in routine, a chance to learn in nature or spend time with friends. In partnership with the Montessori farms, our faculty plan the Chiaravalle multi-day outdoor education experiences to be transformational and memorable, making them keystones of the students’ Montessori experience.