As the child constructs the adult that s/he is to become, successive levels of independence are attained.
From 0 - 3, the child constructs the ability to move independently. Opportunity to practice the associated skills (crawling, grasping etc.) must be provided. At this age also, the child is constructing an ability to communicate through language. A need to talk and to listen arises.
The immediate environment of home and family is all that is required. In the family home security and safe limits for this physically and psychologically dependent child are found.
From 3 - 6, the child refines independent movement. The Montessori Children’s House answers this need with the Exercises of Practical Life. The senses must be refined and ordered. The child finds an aid to this process in the Sensorial materials of the Primary classroom.
In the second plane, Practical Life continues as new levels of independence are achieved, but many of the skills that are important cannot be learned in the classroom.
The intellect is also very active, and although sensorial experiences are important, now pieces of material in the classroom are not enough – The child needs sensorial experience from the wider universe.
Now, family and home are not enough. A wider environment is required, and the prepared environment of the school becomes a second environment in which the child is able to exercise developing skills and concepts.
In the second plane (6 -12), children construct the ability to function in society. An interest in everything is manifested! Going Out provides an avenue for the development of this self-construction. It is now time to move beyond family and school. Physically and mentally, the child is capable of a great deal. The doors to the universe are now thrown open, and the children begin to explore all that surrounds them. At this stage they are guests and observers of the society.
Going out allows children to discover and satisfy their curiosity. Although we do plan lessons to spark interest and excitement, going out and classroom work must come from the questioning of the reasoning mind of the child. The children must be participating and experiencing society to some extent and this starts indoors: navigating and contributing to the classroom community. (Examples: setting up lunch/snack, baking, taking care of the animals and plants, etc.)
We cannot expect children to be able to navigate society successfully if they're not exposed and not given an opportunity to practice.
The closed society in the classroom is not enough for the second plane children. The children are exploring the Universe and trying to figure out how he or she is going to take place in the world of work. We must give him or her the opportunities to get out into society, to communicate with various people in different environments.
People are the essential ingredients for this. Human exchanges are fundamental to the child's experience. Children will come across adults who are helpful and not helpful. They will have to learn with the guide's support how to gracefully handle both situations. When others make poor choices, we shouldn't react to their negativity. That's a lesson we must teach the children.
What is the difference between a Going Out and a Field Trip?
The Montessori Elementary Curriculum has two types of Going Outs:
1. Guide-inspired Going Out: How this works is, when a lesson given to a small group of children, sometimes their interests peak and they become interested of knowing more about the subject. Then it is the Guides responsibility to provide them with opportunities to explore those ideas first hand. This is usually small groups, as most Going-outs should be.
2. Child-inspired Going Out: When a lesson given to a small group of children, sometimes their interests peak and they become interested of knowing more about the subject. Some children may choose to explore options outside of the classroom to gather more information. There is a clear set of guidelines that the child/group must follow in order to attend on Going-Out. The guidelines are reviewed with the Guide and should all aspects be complete, the Guide approves the Going Out. The Guide, Assistant or School Assistant will attend on the Going -Out.
However, these Going Outs are different from Field Trips. A Field Trip has something we do as a whole class to gain experience. For example, an event that is rare to Arizona such as going to see the Russian ballet performance, special Art exhibit or even more expansive such as an overnight exploration within the State.
Each child’s educational experience is individualized, which means that not all children will attend all Going Outs or Field trips. In most cases, all children will experience similar types of opportunities over the three-year period. Some children are not ready or are prepared for certain activities.
One of the daily goals is to assist all children in grace and courtesy, time management, and following directions so that they are prepared for the various experiences that are provided in the Montessori Elementary.
Kinds of Going Outs
Guide-led going outs:
Our lessons should open the doors and appeal the imagination and get the reasoning mind working. But children should not get all the information they need in the classroom, they should get just enough to get started. The only way they will develop their potential is by getting out to society. If we spark their imagination and allow the children to go out they will be unlimited with seeking of knowledge. If we stir up the children they will wonder "What else is there to know?", and "What else is there to find out?". True learning takes place when there is interest and the person has the tools to find out. The function of our stories and presentations is just to open the door.
Going out is not an activity that occurs spontaneously. The children must be prepared to Go Out and this process can take some time. Going Out involves a number of stages, and each of these requires a different set of skills. These skills should be built piece by piece, and it should not be assumed that children have already acquired them. This process may be considered indirect preparation for Going Out, and an extension of Grace and Courtesy and Practical Life exercises from the Children’s House, and from lower-elementary classrooms, in case of upper-elementary classrooms
To guide the children through this process in the beginning we organize guide-led going outs to build a solid foundation so later the children can start organizing going outs on their own. When an interest sparks child goes through the materials in the classroom and still the thirst is not exhausted. In this case, we offer them to go out to find out more. The choices are trip to a library, to a store, nature walk or hike in the surrounding environment. That would be a first step in building that foundation. When the children are acquainted with the process with these initial going outs, when the skills are solid we can proceed with more structured going outs to build the next level skills: going outs to museums, art galleries, historic sites, etc.
In case of preparation for a field trip we organize a school sleepover where we are able to mock a field trip in a more controlled environment – the school. On the sleepover there are activities organized by the guides that can happen on a field trip. The children are guided and participate through the whole process. That allows us to assess the maturity level of each child and the community as a whole.
This forms the grace and courtesy of the elementary community. We need to prepare them on how to act, behave, greet, get someone’s attention, react in a challenging situation as well as they must know how to ask questions and thank the people. The Guide prepares the children by introducing particular tools they need (through modeling). Children go out to learn more and gather information. This starts in the classroom, it's not a trip to the park. Going out is work related, it’s about digging deeper “what else can I find out?”, “Where can I find more?”, “Is this something I need to find out on my own or as a group?”, “When?”, “With whom?”, “Where?”, “What preparation should I be making?”. There is a thinking through process to going outs. The reasoning mind is planning for going outs. This helps the child to develop critical thinking and problem solving. The children will need explicit presentations on what to think through. What we need to be considered when planning a going out. We are in the end simply fostering independence for their thinking and action.
Child-led going outs
When the children are exposed to different types of guide-led going outs and have all the necessary skills to organize a going out on their own the guide gives them more responsibility with freedom to make a going out on their own. It doesn’t mean that there are no adults to accompany or supervise them. On the high-level child-led going out there is always a chaperone who can be a school assistant, or prepared trained adult from the community of parents.
So the whole process of preparation looks like that:
- Guide-led going out – Skills development.; Children assist with different steps, using the skills that they have developed.
- Child-led Going Out – Guide assists and supervises closely.;
- Advanced Going Out (sometimes out of state or country).