By Sarah Louderbough
Elementary Level Director
Going Out is an essential part of the Montessori educational experience. Elementary children are ready to reach beyond the classroom and expand their learning to real-life situations. Going Out may include visiting the library or a local museum to support research; a trip to the pet store to buy supplies for classroom animals; or collecting coffee grounds for the garden and compost. Opportunities to interact with adults and the public foster practical skills that strengthen student’s growing independence.
Children gradually learn to manage the different steps involved in Going Out. They may contact parent drivers as well as the establishment they wish to visit. This gives them opportunities to practice making phone calls, arranging a schedule, and mapping routes. Teachers often ask children to call drivers other than their own parents to practice interacting with other adults. The children will also be in charge of requesting money and creating a budget, preparing any supplies they may need, problem solving when their needs and expectations don’t align with supply availability or budget, and a variety of other tasks. The children are building their capacity for initiating, sequential planning, organizing, communicating, and follow-through.
There are several types of Going Out experiences in which elementary children may participate:
Within the School Grounds
The child does not have to physically leave the school to participate in Going Out. Children may request resources from other classes, write letters or make a telephone call to gather information, go to the office for supplies or copies, and explore nature outside the classroom.
This type of outing is usually centered on a special event, such as a play or exhibit, and in most cases is planned by the teacher in advance. It may include an experience related to something that the entire class has been studying, or an opportunity to expose the children to something beyond the offerings within the school.
A specialist comes to the classroom to share an experience, teach a skill, or offer expertise.
Small Group Outings
This type of outing can be planned or spontaneous. It is the direct result of a small group of children needing or wanting more information for a specific area of study. When are children ready for a Small Group Outing? When they have demonstrated a reasonable level of responsibility in their choice of work and care of the environment, when they show that they are capable of working in a group, and when they have demonstrated the ability to be in control of their actions.
Community Partnerships in Jr. High
Work expands beyond the classroom in a variety of new ways for adolescents. Rather than PE lessons on campus, students spend multi-week units focusing on different things, such as kickboxing. Junior High students also work with a wide range of community partners, experts and professionals that act as mentors and teachers. This work may take place on or off campus, and has included architecture, permaculture, bicycle repair and safety, and archaeology.