Montessori Forest School
Having trained as a Montessori Directress and a Forest School Leader I, (Tara Thompson Outdoor Teaching Manager) , would like to share the similarities and differences found within both holistic forms of education.
Mixed age groups, peer learning
Focus on children’s choices
Practical life skills
Children learn at their own individual pace
Structured free movement, circle time, individual and group activities provided throughout the day.
A clear beginning, middle and end to sessions.
Facilitator to support and scaffold children’s development
Presenting materials and modelling how to use them
Promoting children’s independence within the environment
Montessori Forest School
Prepared environment Natural outdoor environment
Self - correcting materials Risk taking
Work presented left to right Higher adult to child ratio
Concept of normalisation Appreciation of local environment
Distinct curriculum areas
I did my Forest School training with another Montessori Directress. Half way through the first morning we turned to one another and agreed that Forest School appeared to be Montessori, outside and using natural materials. Everything else was fundamentally the same. Forest School offers hands on, child led and often project based learning. This is completely compatible with and blends perfectly with the Montessori approach. Nature is an integral part of Montessori education. Connecting with nature provides children with so many developmental opportunities. Maria Montessori believed that all children have an innate love for nature. Forest School surrounds children with nature and the children instinctively connect to the environment. The children within both Montessori and Forest School are seen as competent and capable and are encouraged to be independent learners.
The educators’ role is to guide, support and facilitate. Both Montessori and Forest School develop confidence and self -esteem through hands on learning experiences. Children are also given opportunity to choose, direct and expand their own activities and allowed to ‘work’ uninterrupted. The educators also develop a different relationship with the children because they are not based in a traditional indoor classroom setting. It is more child led and when a child discovers something for the first time, it is a real ‘wow’ moment, and something to be acknowledged.
Observation and reflection play a large part within Montessori and Forest School education also. Children learn when they are ready, in their own time, at different stages and in a variety of ways. Each child is unique and I believe that is something to be celebrated.
In conclusion, there are considerably more similarities than differences within Montessori and Forest School education. Despite the differences, there is a lot of common ground in the learning goals of Montessori and Forest School.
By Tara Thompson - Outdoor Education Manager