Practical Life exercises instill care for self, for others, and for the environment. Activities include many of the tasks children see as part of the daily routine in their home, such as preparing food and washing dishes, along with exercises of grace and courtesy. Through these tasks, children develop muscular coordination, enabling movement and exploration of their surroundings. They learn to work at a task from beginning to end following various action sequences and develop their powers of control and concentration. They also develop functional independence to become self-sufficient.
Practical Life exercises covers 5 main areas:
- Care of self, such as learning to tie shoelaces.
- Care of the environment such as watering plants.
- Food Preparation such as celery slicing
- Development of social relations such; grace and courtesy
- Coordination of physical movement.
Every Montessori lesson has a purpose, a child arranges flowers to beautify his environment to develop a sense of beauty. He is developing his eye-hand coordination as well as the correct use of manipulative materials. There is also the development of his mathematical mind through the constant measurement and estimation of the volume of water transferred to and fro vessels being used in the lesson. The use of logical thinking on the measurement of the length of each flower stem before it is trimmed and put into a vase introduce the child to the concept of measurement in mathematics. The child is also building concentration and order as well as the understanding of the chronological sequence of events through the numerous steps involved in the activity. There are so many direct and indirect purposes built into every Montessori lesson or purposeful work shown to a child.
Another example is the table washing lesson. A lot of parents have wondered why their child is been shown how to wash a table. It might seem like a fruitless exercise but the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of purposes embedded in this lesson. The child is being prepared for reading and writing by the scrubbing motion going from left to right as well as the sponging motion going from left to right because we read and write from left to right. Also by utilizing the clockwise circular motion of the brush while scrubbing, we are developing the fluidity of the wrist in readiness for writing circular letters like “o”, “e”, “g”, “a”, “q”, “c”, “b” and so on. The child’s pincer grasp is being developed as he holds the brush in readiness for holding a writing tool such as a pencil. There is also the development of the mathematical mind and critical thinking skills through the constant measurement and estimation of the volume of water transferred to and fro vessels being used in the lesson. The child is building concentration, order, persistence, motivation and the understanding of chronological sequence of events by the numerous steps involved in the purposeful work. In this lesson, language is also built in by the expansion of the child’s vocabulary through the introduction of new words like, “soap surds”, “bristles” and others. There are also other indirect purposes built into this lesson.
Other purposeful activities in practical life like flour milling, cutting bananas, orange juicing, cutting celery, apple slicing, dish washing, cloth washing and many others all have inbuilt specific direct and indirect purposes to help the child in his learning, functional independence, coordination of movement and development of a high level of concentration in preparation for the proper foundational skills required for language and mathematics.
Grace and courtesy lessons are very important at this stage in a child’s development, as they are learning to function in a social environment.
These years nurture the growth of children’s independence, self-esteem, and self-discipline while introducing children to the basics of academics.
|Accepting new situations
|Handling stressful situations
|Independence & self-direction
|Positive attitude encouraged
|Developing positive self-image, self-confidence
A child’s work habit improves and develops in various significant aspects with further exposure and utilization of the practical life purposeful activities or work.
|Initiating own work
|Expressing joy in discovery
|Welcoming new challenges
|Exhibiting good concentration
|proving memory retention
|Increasing attention span
|Persisting at a task
|Developing decision making skills
|Choosing challenging work
|Completing work cycle
|Learning to work without disturbing others