Our Farm and Garden
Great care and thought was put into the school before construction began. The Children’s House looks like a farmhouse with charming blue shutters, but it was designed by Montessori teachers with the sole purpose of educating children. The “farmhouse look” blends into the environment around the school making it an inviting and natural place. Even the acoustics in the school are carefully considered to allow each classroom a quiet setting while maintaining the school’s open environment. The adjoining playground and beautiful organic garden completed the school’s campus.
In our organic garden we have 16 4 x 4 beds that the children tend to. They prepare the soil with tilling, filling and fertilizing. Then the plant the seeds. We decide as a group what we want to plant and what we think will grow well with the current weather. As the plants start to grow, so do our observations and recording. Children are encouraged to record in their own journals with either pictures or stories. Sitting out here in the garden is one of our most peaceful activities.
Meet the farm animals
Many people intuitively understand but perhaps have never heard of the “biophilia hypothesis,” the idea, put forward by biologist Edward O. Wilson in 1984, that humans have a natural affinity for other living things—plants, animals, and the natural environment. According to Wilson, because we are alive, we humans all share an innate need to associate with other living creatures. In recent years, many early childhood educators have recognized this need and are trying to embrace this philosophy in offering these experiences to children. The biophilia hypothesis supports the idea that children can thrive when allowed extended periods of time in natural settings.
But having a biocentric approach to child development means more than just providing children with spaces to run and play in nature. It can also include opportunities for children to connect with living animals. Animals offer a unique window into another world. Children’s relationships with animals are special, rich with meaning, and supportive of children’s development. Focusing on children’s relationships with animals encourages and expands children’s affinity for living things.
Children’s innate love for animals seems to be universal. While most adults tend to place value on animals based on their relationship to humans (for example, valuing them for companionship, food, or products, such as leather or wool), young children seem to value animals simply because they are. This is called intrinsicvalue. Many children recognize the intrinsic value of animals not because of what they do for us, what they give to us, or how they help us, but simply because they are living creatures. Children don’t consider the elements and nuances of their relationships to, and love for, animals. Most simply love animals without question or analysis.
The power of caring for an animal and playing a role in the animal’s well-being can be very meaningful for a young child. Especially in their early years, children are busy trying to understand how they are capable and competent. Giving children the opportunity to participate in meaningful caring activities for a vulnerable creature can build tremendous confidence.
Saving Bees and Makin' Butterflies
Come back soon to see more about our bees!!
Junior Master Gardener Program
The Junior Master Gardener program is an international youth gardening program of the University Cooperative Extension network. The Montessori School of Johns Island began participating in this program several years ago because of the value of engaging children in the experience of gardening. Through our students we hope to cultivate a love of gardening and an appreciation for the environment. The JMG program encourages and requires both the practical education and labor of gardening as well as the didactic education of environmental and nutritional sciences.
The Primary and Elementary Program students each have their own Junior Master Gardener Handbook, studying topics from soil and bugs to nutrition and water conservation. We have recently re-landscaped and updated our organic garden. It is organized into sixteen 4′ by 4′ square plots that our students are primarily responsible for maintaining. Our newest addition is our bee box and bee colony. We hope to teach our students about the importance of bees in the environment and to help the conservation efforts of our favorite pollinators.
Many times we hear from parents about how their child will not eat their vegetables. After helping with the garden and harvesting vegetables they themselves planted, we have noticed children fall in love with these vegetables. We strive to develop a lifelong love of eating fresh healthful foods.
Our students, parents, and faculty have all enjoyed weeding, planting, and harvesting. Most especially, we have all appreciated eating the fresh herbs and vegetables! Through the JMG program, our students develop a respect for hard honest labor, and the fruits of that labor. They know that food does not originate at the supermarket, or in cans or packages, they understand from first-hand knowledge that organic healthful food is grown – like our blueberries – on bushes!