Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Summer Vacation and Going Out: A Montessori Practical Life Experience

NAMC montessori practical life going out summer vacation family hiking
“Miss Michelle, can we go to…?” These types of questions always remind me of the importance of independence, even among the youngest of Montessori children. In a previous post, I reflected that “Maria Montessori recognized that children in the second plane of development (ages 6-12) are in need of a dual environment: that which is found within the Montessori classroom and that which is found outside the Montessori classroom.” The same can be true within the family as well.

Summer vacations are, in a sense, a familial “going-out”. Because Montessori children may be used to planning their going-out excursions for the classroom, be sure to include them in the planning of your next family vacation.

Summer Vacation and Going Out: A Montessori Practical Life Experience

Children in the latter stage of the first plane of development (ages 0-6) can help create a “summer outing” calendar. Discuss with your child what they’d like to do that summer and find some stickers that correspond. Going to the zoo? Find some elephant stickers and place them on the appropriate date. Going to the library? Find some “book” stickers. Planning a weekend at the beach? Crab or seashell stickers will do the trick. Then, have the children help you count down and cross off the days until the next event. When the big day arrives, be sure to let them make decisions: What do they need to take? What should they wear? Should they bring a snack? What music or games should we play in the car?
NAMC montessori practical life going out summer vacation family
Older children (second plane of development – ages 6-12) can be more active in the planning. Have them research the places you will be visiting and come up with some activities they would like to do. Go to the library and look through tour books together. Plan/research your trip together using tools available on the internet such as Mapquest or Expedia.com. Ask them what they think would be the best route? Are you trying to get there quickly or do you have time to take the scenic route? Have them come up with a schedule of activities and have them call to inquire about admissions cost and hours. Make sure they note how much time they think the activity should take and what you can expect to see/do/learn while there. Are you visiting a foreign country? Have them brainstorm a list of words and phrases they think they’ll need and research how to say them in the target language. Another idea might be to allow them to choose a restaurant they would like to experience. Have them call ahead for reservations and plan the route to the restaurant.

The work of the family is often referred to in Montessori as “Practical Life” work. Learning to plan family outings is practical life work for the Montessori child. When planning your family “going-out”, keep in mind the areas of practical life that are to be addressed.
  • Care of Self – planning what will be needed (snacks, money, clothing, equipment, transportation…)
  • Care of the Environment – taking care in and of our surroundings (“look but don’t touch” at museums; recycling and throwing out our litter; using ‘inside’ voices in public areas; learning the “pack in/pack out” rule)
  • Grace and Courtesy – handling ourselves in social situations (making reservations, using manners, writing thank you notes)
When children are included in the planning and preparation, family vacations and outings tend to run much more smoothly. When everyone has contributed, complaints are minimal. Besides, what could be better than spending time with your children planning and experiencing something that will create memories to last a lifetime? The NAMC Practical Life manuals (3-6 and 6-9) provide a comprehensive curriculum, rich with activities to nurture citizenship and independence.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, June 9, 2009.


  1. Thanks for this post :) Even though it's Winter (and ever so chilly right now!) here in Australia, this is our first ever year of "school holidays" & you've helped to inspire me to work with my children to plan some experiential outings (visiting somewhere snowy for example. They've never seen snow but we would probably only have to drive 5 or so hours to maybe catch some!!)

  2. Amber,
    I’m so happy to hear that you are going to work with your children to plan some outings. I am certain you will have some wonderful memories and experiences. Enjoy the snow!


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