Discovering, exploring, and utilizing the world outside of the classroom are fundamental factors for a rich and meaningful Montessori elementary experience. Elementary-age children are usually more mature, inquisitive, responsible, and independent; they demonstrate appropriate levels of communication and collaborative skills. They continue to cultivate and practice those skills throughout their elementary years and “Going Out” is a way for them to practice these and other skills. Hence, the “Going Out” program is implemented and executed during the elementary program. “Going Out” also promotes independence, and resourcefulness. It connects children with vital real-life experiences, and give them lessons with practical applications. “Going Out” also allows the children to:
- Collaborate among their peers
- Delegate and share responsibilities
- Make group decisions
- Develop leadership skills
- Take responsibility for their actions
- Practice respect, grace and courtesy
- Apply constructive and respectful problem-solving skills outside of the classroom
Dr. Maria Montessori realized that elementary children need a dual environment: an environment that is found inside of the Montessori classroom and one that is found outside of the classroom. Although the Montessori classroom is stimulating and fascinating, Dr. Montessori believed that children should experience the community personally. Hence, Dr. Montessori developed the “Going Out” program to connect children with the real-world.
“Instruction becomes a living thing. Instead of being illustrated, it is brought to life. In a word, the outing is a new key for the intensification of instruction ordinarily given in the school.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
I was honored to be part of the “Going Out” with the elementary children. I had a first hand experience with the them on two different occasions. I saw the lessons learned and the skills that they exhibited for the execution of a successful outing.
BEFORE THE OUTING
The children were responsible for all aspect of the “Going Out”. They were responsible for planning, organizing, and executing the outing. For example, if the “Going Out” is to the grocery store, they would do the following start to finish:
- Choose the grocery store (Plaza)
- Choose the time to shop (morning)
- Make a list of items and decide on a budget ($75)
- Contact a parent volunteer for supervision and transportation (ME!!!)
Before the outing, the children and the elementary guide would discuss the goals and expectations of the day. They would also discuss some important factors such as the children behavior, grace and courtesy, respect and gratitude throughout the outing. The children usually would call a parent volunteer to take them to their destination, but this time, I volunteered to do the outing with the children. If the children had called me instead, it would have given them an opportunity to practice their phone etiquette.
DURING THE OUTING
During the outing, the students used their team work skills to collaborate and to maximize their time shopping. They also remembered the grace and courtesy lessons that they learned in the Primary Program to be polite at the grocery store. They checked off the items on their list. The first group was under budget; however, the second group was over budget. To try to stay within budget, the second group removed items from their basket and weighed which items were most important. This is an important life skills to know.
AFTER THE OUTING
When the children got back to school, they immediately unpacked the groceries. They placed some items in the school’s kitchen cabinet and others in their classroom fridge. They then reflected with the elementary guide by discussing the outing, focusing on what they learned. They also discuss what worked and what didn’t work for future outings.