What is cosmic education?
“Cosmic Education”…When I first heard the term, I was thinking, “What kind of hippie voodoo nonsense is this!? “. What kind of “far out” stuff are these Montessori kids learning? Or is this just a really fancy name for an astronomy lesson?
To my surprise, cosmic education has been one of the most delightful parts of Montessori homeschooling! While it’s is the heart and soul of the Montessori elementary years and beyond, the foundation for it is laid in the 3-6 age group.
To summarize cosmic education, it’s taking opportunities throughout the day, in nature and during activities, to help a child understand how everything and everyone is connected; people, plants, animals, the Earth, and the planets
Not just in the present moment, but in the past and future, as well.
Children in the traditional school model are typically introduced to new information without the tools and opportunities to help them make sense of it all. Cosmic education helps children understand the valuable role they play in the universe and about the opportunities they have to improve their communities and the world as a whole.
This might sound slightly complicated, but it’s not. I promise you this!
Cosmic education in the primary years
I’m going to explain it a little further (as it relates to the primary (3-6) age group), and then I’m going to give you several examples of how you can incorporate it into the activities you do with your child.
Movement and sensory-rich experiences are the base of cosmic education in the primary age group. Children ages 3-6 engage in various activities, like Practical Life, art, music, and dance.
They also begin to learn math, science, language arts, zoology, and so on. A child’s love of learning and their natural curiosity should be aided at this age by posing questions that encourage them to view all these areas of learning in a way that shows the interconnectedness of everything and everyone!
Cosmic education opportunities for your preschooler
Observing animals and plants while you’re out and about or just looking out the window:
“We had sandwiches for lunch. It’s important to eat because we need food to live. What do you think those birds need to survive?”
This is opportunity to talk about how animals need food, water, sunlight, air, and shelter. You can apply this question to plants and even discuss more about what people’s survival needs are.
While discussing what “alive” means and classifying things as “alive” and “not alive”. For example: cars are not alive, but insects are. This could happen during a walk through your neighborhood:
“Why should we be kind to all living things?” and “What should we do if we see a living thing that is hurt?”
This a chance to help your child develop empathy for all living creatures. You could take this opportunity to talk about an instance in which you helped nurse an animal back to health and how important it is to gently approach and handle all living beings, even people.
While watering and pruning plants outside:
“Why do you think it’s important to take care of plants?” and “What other things can you do to take of the earth?”
This is great opportunity to discuss a variety of things, like the role of plants in providing oxygen and food for insects and birds. It’s also a chance to discuss recycling and things that can be done to create less waste.
While picking up clutter and toys around the house:
“Why is it important to keep the floor clear of toys and other items?”
This question provides an opportunity to talk about taking care of our belongings so the last as long as possible. You can also discuss how toys on the floor can cause people to trip and fall, furthering their empathetic growth.
While your child is helping wash vegetables for dinner:
“Would you like to grow squash?” and “Can you think of some other vegetables you want to grow?”
These questions can help get your child excited about growing and eating healthy foods. The second questions also helps them with classification.
When discussing manners:
“How does it make you feel when someone says “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome”?”
I really like this one. Instead of drilling the use of courteous phrases into a child, posing this question helps a child think about how nice it feels to feel respected in interactions. This will encourage them, in a positive way, to use these polite phrases.
While writing a grocery list while your child watches, or while they practice their handwriting:
“Can someone’s handwriting tell you anything about them?”
This is a chance to discuss how a person’s handwriting may change depending on how they are feeling or on their current circumstance. People may press down harder while they write if they are angry or they may write sloppily if they are in a rush.
“Why do books sometimes have pictures in them?”
Your child may answer that pictures help them better follow the story or that pictures are nice to look at. This is a great opportunity to discuss how appreciative we all are of art, and the different ways it can help people.
So, you see, cosmic education isn’t anything weird or cult-ish. It is simple and can be applied to everyday activities, even during the primary years!
It’s important to note that we should not be forcing any of these cosmic opportunities, but to observe your child for any spark of interest. Also, ask these questions, but don’t take over the conversation and answer them.
How can a child learn critical thinking skills if we answer every question for them? We already know the answers to these questions, but it’s not our job as parents to fill our children with everything we know. That robs children of the opportunity to come up with their own answers and ideas.
Cosmic education provides an opportunity to encourage opportunities for a child’s curiosity and imagination to flourish! So, try to lead without getting in the way.
I hope you found this enjoyable and informative!
Cheers and don’t forget to subscribe!