Cultural Study : Geography

May 22, 2020

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“Let us give the child a vision of the universe for all things are connected to form one whole unity.”

Maria Montessori

Why study geography in pre-school?

Maybe it’s just me. But I do not remember studying geography at the age of 3. At that age, I have no idea of my house number(if we have one) let alone my street name. Well, do you? What was Montessori thinking?

Oh well, let me tell you. Without getting too complicated, simply put, Maria Montessori believes that;

All living and non living things are interrelated, connected with one another. And that, in the highly cosmic universe, we do not exist only for ourselves but we as humans are part of a bigger whole. Therefore, a child needs to be aware of how he/she relates to space whether it’s physical, cultural or political. WHAT? I can explain this more in a bit.

In addition, she believes that all human needs are universal. Meaning, Nadia of Mexico has the same basic need for food and shelter like James from Norway. And with that premise, studying geography instills knowledge and awareness that all humans are more alike more than they are different. That’s why cultural study is an integral part of the Montessori Geography curriculum.

What does it mean child relating to space?

Now, let me go back to my previous statement. Even at the age of 3, a child needs to understand the concept of space in geographical term. Nor am I referring to the space in the solar system. I am talking about how a child relates to his physical space around him in his relationship with others.

Respect for space is very Montessori term. Like we always remind children to be aware that “space” belongs to them. That’s why we have rugs that they use to signify that it’ their work space, Thus, no one can just join in a child’s work unless the child allows him too. So if I ask child’s permission to ask help if I can sit right next to him. If he says “No”then I just walk away.

Integrating cultural celebrations across the curriculum

When I celebrate events, like Father’s Nite for instance, I focus on the celebration as a call to consciousness of man in relation to the universe. I do that by first, re-enacting the Cosmic Education with a Pre-History timeline story. The children danced in a circle then pretend to be the stars. After that, some of the the children hold the planets as they go around the sun. Lastly, with the help of a good background music, the children get to become the animals that live on Earth.

Cultural celebrations are events that instill awareness of other cultures through food, stories, songs or craft in order to build connections with each other. I always love doing this!

That’s why in February, as we celebrate the Chinese New Year, we do not study China alone. Instead, we do a study of Asia integrated across the curriculum. We do this by first, setting up two bowls one with dry rice for spoon transferring in the Practical Life area. Second, we have chopsticks that is set up with pompom balls for transferring. Then, a kimono is in a basket with for the children to wear. You will notice a lot of movement as children invites their friend for Japanese tea.

child sews world map cultural study montessori
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Meanwhile, in the Math area young children are learning to count in Chinese while older children are adding Chinese numbers. As children try their hand at writing Chinese characters other decorate a fan using a Q-tip, In Geography area some older children are making doing an Asia map while some are coloring the flag of China.

Geography Curriculum Overview

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The study of Geography is divided into 3 areas namely;

  • Physical : Solar System, Sandpaper and Colored globe, Land, Air and Water. Time : Months and Days
  • Cultural : Continent Baskets with objects, Multi-cultural celebrations
  • Political : Maps of six continents, Flags of other countries

Montessori believes in of the cosmic study of the universe along with man’s relation to living and non living things.  What truly separates us is ignorance and what bridge us together is acceptance.

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