In Montessori schools, elementary aged children are given the opportunity to plan outings. During the second plane of development, the prepared environment is not only limited to the classroom! Children have an opportunity to organise, plan, and prepare for a trip outside of the classroom! You can use our Montessori outing planner to help simplify this process!
Let’s read about why this is developmentally appropriate (necessary even) and how we can help children to succeed in this big work! In the end of this article, we have a free printable outing planner that you can download.
The Second Plane Child
First, let’s cover a brief overview about the second plane child. Dr. Montessori theorised that children go through stages of development. During each plane of development, there are certain characteristics that children will generally display.
Children in the second plane of development (6 to 12 years old) are becoming more social than first plane children (0 to 6 years old). Dr. Montessori explains that second plane children have a desire to participate in organized activity. They are able to and have a strong desire to participate in collaborative work or projects with their peers.
Children wish to socialise with each other and can be found testing out different social roles. For example, children may make up games to play with their own rules. One child test out being the “leader” once, and the next time, a different child may take on a leadership role. This is an example of testing different social roles and is a way to process and understand society around them.
When it comes to planning an outing, children may plan in groups. Some children may delegate and there will be a division of the work within the group. Who is doing which tasks may vary the next time an outing is planned. There may be conflicts and disagreements amongst the children. Adults can help children to solve these conflicts (remember grace and courtesy lessons).
If you are homeschooling multiple children or you are part of a co-op, consider providing an opportunity for outings to your children.
Voracious thirst for knowledge
During the second plane, children have a voracious thirst for knowledge. They are eager to learn about the universe. Children exert a great deal of energy into understanding the world around them. Children will not only be eager to learn, but there will be a drive to understand why and how it is that things happen.
The prepared environment
The prepared environment for a first plane child is the classroom. Teacher-guides and/or parents prepare a space for the child to learn and flourish in.
When it comes to the second plane child, Dr. Montessori writes that children at this age should not be limited only to the environment of their classroom (From Childhood to Adolescence, p.3).
Why are outings important?
Second plane children often plan outings. Children will not find everything in the classroom. The world is so interesting and there’s so much to learn – we can’t fit it all in one classroom, after all!
Children may find a subject that they wish to learn more about. They may start researching a topic or working on a project. This may lead them to have questions that can be answered by visiting a museum, talking to a local professional, or visiting institutions within the cultural sector.
For example, a child may start researching different marine animals. They may use books within the classroom or use internet sources. After learning what they can from these sources, perhaps the children would want to visit a dolfinarium.
Planning an outing is a big deal! It is a huge responsibility to think about the details of such a trip. What needs to be arranged? How much does everything cost?
Children should arrange everything. We mean everything!
This can take some planning and effort on their part. They may need to make some phone calls and research details in order to make their trip possible.
It is very important for children to have this opportunity to figure out the details themselves. This undertaking is huge! Epic!
And so important!
Imagine how accomplished and proud they will feel after going through this process! Giving children the tools (this is important) and the space to plan and go on outings is a major boost to their confidence.
Even if children may make a mistake, being able to problem solve to figure out a solution can still contribute to boosting confidence.
Children will see themselves as capable, independent, smart, strong!
Practical life and important skills
Planning a Montessori outing is a big deal! It is a huge responsibility and generally takes loads of work!
This is also a very important practical life skill. In order to function in society, we need to be able to make plans, figure out how to get somewhere, how much it will cost, etc.
Notice the difference between practical life during the first and second planes of development. During the first plane, practical life tasks focus on movement and repetition. During the second plane, practical life tends to contribute to society or lead to a result of some sort.
Other practical life tasks for the second plane child may include: cleaning up the home/school, painting a space, repairing a broken object, volunteering within the community, preparing a meal for the class, etc.
Plan your Montessori outing
Now, we know that outings are very important to the development of the second plane child. Let’s talk about how to help them succeed with their outing!
We certainly wouldn’t say to a child, “Here, plan a trip. Good luck!”
That would not set them up for success and probably we would have an overwhelmed child.
As teachers or parents, we can guide the children to help them figure out the necessary logistics.
We created a printable that asks the child a few important questions that they should think about for their trip. You can use our Montessori outing planner to help children organise their thoughts and plan their day! Some of the questions they should think about are:
- Where will we go?
- How much will it cost?
- What will we eat?
- How will we get there?
- Do we need an adult chaperone?
- What time is the location open?
- What do they want to do there?
There’s a lot to consider!
Our family is going on a trip to Paris. Here is an example of our son (9 years-old) planning an excursion to the Louvre.
He started by visiting their website and looking up some of the information he wanted to know. We looked at Google Maps to figure out how we can get there. He even wrote down the date he wishes to go in his calendar.
Our son filled out his Montessori outing planner page with great care! It’s so sweet to watch!
After the trip, he will have a chance to complete some follow-up work.
While you’re there
If you are homeschooling and you will be attending this outing with your children, we would like to remind you – please do not intervene unless there are questions of safety.
In Montessori schools, chaperones often receive training for such visits. It is important for the children to in charge of the day/event. The adults should refrain from taking over, even if problems arise.
Say you are visiting a museum and the children wish to visit a particular exhibit. They should be the ones to look at the maps, find the exhibit, and figure out how to get there. Perhaps they will make an error in judgement and will go in the opposite direction!
Let’s not worry! As hard as it can be, it’s important to keep quiet, and offer the children an opportunity to notice the error. Then, they can figure out how to navigate back to where they wish to go.
Problem solving in this way can give the children such a feeling of pride and self-sufficiency! How wonderful!
After the outing, children can take some time to reflect. Including in our outing planner is a page for reflection. These types of pages can help children to process what they have done and seen. It can be a useful moment to take a pause and think about what they have learned from their experience.
In addition, they may be inspired to continue learning after the outing! If they visit a planetarium, maybe they will want to make a model of some constellations afterwards! Or make some papier-mâché planets? Who knows! The possibilities will be open to the children!
It is important that the child takes the initiative with follow-up work. Some children may need to take some time to process what they have learned. Perhaps they will not want to make any follow-up work.
Others may feel inspired and may get started with a large, creative project! Others may want to write some observations in a notebook, and that will be that.
We are offering the world to the children. There is a plethora of interesting subjects, projects, and opportunities to learn! We can provide these opportunities as adult-guides. Outings (including follow-up work/reflections) are one of those learning opportunities!
Planning an outing
To conclude, planning an outing is an integral part of development for the second plane child. These outings, the preparation and the reflection afterwards are all opportunities for learning! During this process, children will be working on all of these skills:
- develop leadership skills
- encourages problem-solving
- children work on social skills
- knowledge obtained from the outing itself (ie – visit the Van Gogh museum and learn about art)
- practical life skills
- grace and courtesy (respecting each other as well as others)
- imagination is used during the planning phase
- inspires learning
Have your children planned an outing? Will you try it?
Books about the second plane child:
- From Childhood to Adolescence
- To Educate the Human Potential