Since birth and during the young years, a child has an inner interest in the daily activities of an adult. By helping and being involve the child learns that his contribution is valuable, increasing his independence and self esteem.
Is necessary to meet this desire by providing the child with proper stimulation giving him a positive experience through this period of development.
Through Practical Life a child is able to connect between home and school.
In the Montessori classroom the child is able to do those activities at their own pace without interference; the teacher observes from a distance and helps only if necessary. The material is child size making it appropriate for the child.
Through Practical Life the child develops a high level of concentration, a sense of order, pride in their job, social skills and independence being able to take care for himself and his environment. It also develops fine motor movement involving the body the intellect and will.
These skills will help the child in their academic subjects as well as help them develop into a happy well adjusted adult with a strong self -esteem.
The Montessori classroom is centered on the child; It’s made to encourage independent learning and exploration.
The prepared environment is essential; everything in the classroom can be seen and touched having a specific use, the materials are made for the child to learn through the senses and movement.
The classroom is beautiful and orderly, everything is proportioned for the child. Subjects like Practical Life, Sensorial, Cultural, Mathematics, and Language; are not taught separately.
In Montessori all activities are called work so that the child will associate “work” into something positive and enjoyable; something he will take pride in; parents and teachers must be encouraging in their work, showing them the value of work. by giving them a worthwhile activity the child is able to see his contribution. Peeling garlic is an example; the child works peeling the garlic having it serve for dinner.
The parent praises the work of the child letting the child feel proud while he sees the results of his efforts.
There are four categories of Practical Life:
- Preliminary Activities: maintenance of the environment – sharpening pencils, how to put down a chair or roll a mat.
- Care of self: becoming physically independent – washing hands, tying shoe laces.
- Care of the environment: sweeping floor, washing plants.
- Social graces and courtesy: customs and manners – saying please and thank you.
In the Montessori classroom a shelve of 3 to 4 shelve unit is needed; one shelve is to store things like towels, cloth, cotton balls etc..
At the beginning of class the shelves need to look neat, clean and organized. Every activity is precise color coordinated, attractive. Set up nine activities per shelving unit from simple to moderately difficult.
You start by introducing the child to the material demonstrate the activity , leave him to repeat it and if necessary remind him to clean up returning everything to the right place.
Each activity is set on a tray with all the materials for the activity on the tray. Projects with water require plastic mats. Glass pitchers and jars are preferable, children understand that glass brakes this increases their care and concentration.
New activities should be introduced each week; There’s three ways of presenting Practical Life activities:
- Collectively: given to all the children at one time; usually circle time – table manners, how to interrupt someone, how to speak with an inside voice.
- Group: small group of children – rolling mat, stepping around the mat.
- Individual: Only one child at a time – brushing teeth, cleaning fingernails.
Children develop at different areas within different times; the teacher should introduce the activity when she thinks the child is ready for it.
Children are hand-minded and are able to learn skills at a young age; In the Montessori classroom a child is able to learn Practical Life skills as well as interacting and respecting each others differences and space, with courtesy and dignity. This prepares the child for society and adulthood.