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15.10.2020 - Ausgabe: 5/2020

Montessori School in Freising: "We support your children”

© SIK-Holzgestaltungs GmbH

In Montessori education, the space in which a child takes the decisive steps of its mental and spiritual growth has a special significance. However, physical exercise plays an elementary role in this context.

"If a person develops without sufficient physical activity, he lives in worse conditions than a blind or deaf person, because the lack of one sense can be compensated by increased training of another sense. The absence of exercise, however, cannot be replaced, because it is elementary". (Maria Montessori 1932)

Exercise is fun and is often accompanied by important and varied experiences, because it enables us to test our limits, discover different ways of exercise, have a good friend around, laugh together or try something new.

Children conquer the world mainly through physical activity. In this way they increasingly explore and discover their environment and build up and expand their mental abilities, i.e. their intelligence. This is why it is so important that children are allowed to move around as much and as often as possible, both indoors and outdoors. The satisfaction lies in the activity itself and not in achieving a specific goal set from outside. 

Maria Montessori recognised the close connection between physical activity and mental development due to her outstanding powers of observation. The latest research results from the psychology of learning and development have once again proven and confirmed her theses.

The Montessori School in Freising is an all-day school from grade 1 to 10. The aim is to promote the development of children by promoting their independence so that they become self-confident personalities who work in a team and take responsibility for themselves and others. It is here where the children are individually supported in order to find suitable perspectives for their future life.


The new school building

In 2015, after five years of planning, the school moved into a new building on the southern edge of the city.  The old school had to make way for a residential area. The new building is situated between single-family houses and a busy street. Since it is an angular building with a sports hall, the schoolyard is protected from noise. However, at first the new schoolyard provided a much smaller range of play equipment in comparison to the former schoolyard area. The reason for this is the location of the school in the midst of a flood area. The necessary cesspits swallowed up a large part of the budget and were covered with large areas of gravel. Compared to the old schoolyard, there is also a lack of exercise facilities and communication niches for the 400 children, who make intensive use of the schoolyard during breaks and partly also during the lessons. Thus, immediately after the school moved, a working group was set up to develop a comprehensive concept for the schoolyard in order to implement the concrete ideas and wishes of parents and teachers as well as the requirements based on the Montessori pedagogical concept.

The aim of the working group was to exploit the potential of the schoolyard, which had remained well below its potential at the start of construction, even though it was known that space was limited. Therefore, it was necessary to optimise the schoolyard retrospectively by taking into account the given conditions and cost-benefit aspects. In order to improve the use of the schoolyard as part of a cosmic education and to integrate nature as specified by Maria Montessori, fruit trees should be planted and raised-beds created.

However, a sponsor had to be found who would finance the climbing facility.   Therefore landscape architect Carla Jaekel designed a circular climbing and balancing facility with a highly challenging character. The shape and colours of the device were designed according to the school's logo. The facility, which is located in the centre of the northern schoolyard area, was built by the company SIK-Holz from resistant and naturally grown robinia wood and includes sophisticated rope connections.  

Different types of activity, such as running on a sloping plane, shimmying, climbing, balancing, sliding, simply sitting on a beam and watching others or chilling comfortably while lying down or sitting in the large area net are just some of its possible uses. In addition, the central view over the centre of the complex is particularly attractive. It is here, where to find the highest point. The small stand offers space for only about two children. Conquering this place can be compared to climbing a mountain. 

Before the 2016 summer holidays, parents and children helped to prepare this area for the construction of the large climbing frame. First of all, the existing fall protection gravel had to be removed with shovel and wheelbarrow, which was a very hard process. But after the summer holidays the joy among the children was great when they were allowed to play on the new climbing and balancing facility, at first hesitantly, then more recklessly with each passing day. It is here where they play the catching game, trying to escape the catcher by courageous jumps between the balancing elements. But if the dangerous "super jump" fails, one lands almost softly in the gravel and climbs back up again. The different activity areas provide a lot of fun for the children. They invent new games and negotiate new game rules. After the break, the teachers are happy to see children who are both relaxed and recovered due to their break activities and thus able to concentrate well on the lessons again.

The southern part of the schoolyard is dominated by a large open space. It is here, where the urgent desire of the pupils of the primary and middle school for a football field could be implemented while at the same time it is suitable for outdoor physical education.

In addition, some donated fruit trees were planted by both children and parents. Together with the raised-beds in the west, they form the basis of the educational concept described at the beginning of this article. Thus the aim to connect nature and exercise areas with each other and make them tangible has been well achieved. However, the schoolyard still gives room for new ideas, adaptations and changes, as the freedom to redesign the school living space enables the children and young people to be creative together.


Schoolyard concept - Montessori School Freising

The wishes and ideas of the children, teachers and parents: 


Fitness elements:

Possibilities for climbing, balancing and seesawing, area for free games and frolicking around, football field, playable shrub hill  

Feel-good elements: 

Retreats behind hedges and niches, seating, awnings

Creative elements:

Sand playground, water pump, construction corner  

Pedagogical elements:

Raised-beds, fruit trees  


The Garden-Working Group of the Montessori Landkreis Freising e.V.:

Cristine Siwy, Carla Jaekel, Korinna Stadie, Waltraut Hampe, Elisabeth Wiedenhofer, Daniela Holzmann, Martina Flotzinger, Johann Schmid



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