As our 6- to 12-year-old children grow, we must remember that their tendencies are to explore the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of any given situation. Maria Montessori believed that it is not possible for the elementary child to find all of the reasons and answers to their big questions in the classroom alone. Going Out relates directly to the human tendencies of exploration, orientation, and communication.
In that broader ‘classroom’ outside of the school, we have a social environment filled with resources. The children are developing compassion, awareness, and confidence, and the social environment of the class is not enough to satisfy those new characteristics. The child wants and needs to find out more.
Going Out depends both on the intellectual and social experience of life in and beyond the classroom, and it extends and supports the desire to learn and explore.
So what exactly IS a “Going Out?”
There is only so much a child can learn within the four walls of a classroom. Montessori elementary learning takes place both inside and outside of the school. The Montessori elementary classroom is designed to spark imagination and interest and to create lasting impressions, but it is also intentionally limited so that the children are encouraged to seek resources and experiences beyond the comforts of the school environment. We want our elementary students to find value in the community at large and to develop their skills in communication.
This might mean calling and planning a trip to meet with an expert in violin making, setting up an interview and tour at the coast guard to complete a report on boats, or taking the bus to the local pizza parlor to perfect a recipe write-up for a class pizza day.
Students are expected to share responsibilities as members of their school community. Because of this, Going Outs might also include practical care of the classroom environment. This might look like planning a monthly trip to the pet store for pet food, going out to get supplies to create props for a play, or walking to the library to check out books that are needed for particular research. These tasks are equally as important to the elementary child, for it is the experience of the Going Out that trumps even the information or supplies gathered as a result of the children’s hard work.
It is essential that the children do all of the planning and problem solving that is necessary to accomplish the Going Out. They look up phone numbers to call, learn how to read maps and directions, and contact adult chaperones to accompany them for safety purposes. Students handle any money on their own, keep record of receipts, and are expected to write and mail any thank-you letters for those who helped them accomplish their Going Out.
And what is the role of the adult chaperone?
The adult chaperone is needed for safety guidance and supervision of the children as they learn to navigate the world during their Going Out experience. The ideal chaperone is able to quietly ‘disappear’ into the background as the children find their way, seek out answers to questions, and navigate any problem solving situations without the help of the adult.
It is important for the chaperone to remember that often the real learning takes place when mistakes are made and the unforeseeable obstacles are conquered. Ideally, the chaperone would also make some mental notes regarding areas of grace and courtesy that could be re-presented by the guide when the children return to school. Talk to us about how to become a chaperone at MSD!
To recap, the benefits of Going Out are: