In education today, there’s a forward momentum towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). There are robotics clubs, programming camps, and circuitry courses. We want our children to enter the world prepared in math and science. However, if you look to the natural world, there are so many ways for your child to become a natural scientist and mathematician.
The etymology of “science” comes from the Latin scire, “to know”, and etymologists note that it probably originally meant “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish.” Yet, in our natural world, there is so much to know, to distinguish, that has fallen through the cracks in the education of our youth, and perhaps even ourselves. In the Montessori classroom, distinguishing and classifying starts in the Children’s House, in practically every subject area. This practice not only helps the child to fine tune their observation skills and hone in their level of concentration, but the child is organizing and classifying information in their brain.
In the Elementary classroom, children continue to use their observational and analytical skills to study, classify, and understand the distinguishing characteristics of the natural world. Elementary children are provided a high level introduction to this field of study. For instance, in botany and zoology, the child learns how each organism lives and what satisfies that organisms needs. Then the child learns about the function and parts, such as the function of limbs, skin, or leaf to that particular living organism. At this point, the child may explore variety. This exposure to variety is what impels the child to classify. A leaf is not merely a leaf, but a maple leaf – or even distinguished further, a red maple. Nor is a feather just a feather, but that very plain, brown feather is a bald eagle feather. By learning and practicing this skill, the child is practicing scientific observation. Click to read full article.