Practical Life in the Toddler Room

Practical life is such an important area of the toddler community in Montessori education. Practical life activities help the child develop independence, concentration, and a sense of order. Through the activities, the child develops self-confidence for mastery of the other more advanced areas of the Montessori classroom. There are different categories of Practical Life that revolve around ‘Care of Self’, ‘Care of Environment’, ‘Grace and Courtesy’, and ‘Control of Movement’. All these activities help your child learn how to engage in purposeful work. Many are fundamental exercises that the child needs to master to be able to live comfortably in the real world.

Practical Life Activities at Home: Skills will last a lifetime
There are many Practical Life activities you can do at home to allow your child to be involved. Helping load the dirty laundry and unload, pressing the start button, sorting the clothes (socks, pants, shirts, ect.) or even putting away their own clothes. In our classroom the toddlers love loading and unloading the small dishwasher and would be capable and willing to help do this at home. Pet care is another great way to let your toddler feel important; scooping the food, pouring new water, cleaning the pet bowl, brushing your pet are all great things your toddler can help with. Plant care is a fun activity, just set them up for success (small watering can and accessible water source). Helping in the kitchen is one of our favorite Practical Life activities. There are so many things your toddler can do to be involved in the kitchen, for example food preparation. Scrubbing veggies for dinner is a great engaging activity, when they are more involved they are more likely to try it. They can also help set the table for dinner. Self Care takes a lot of practice (washing their hands, brushing their teeth or hair, getting dressed, ect.). 

“Help me to do it all by myself”
At first it won’t be perfect. They need your help until they have mastered any Practical Life skill, but they will never get there unless you provide them with opportunities to practice. If your child is showing an interest in wanting to try a Practical Life activity (wash their hands, brush their teeth, dress themselves, help in the kitchen, or with your pets) let them try even if it means they put their shoes on the wrong feet. Any time your child can experience just a little bit of success is going to go a long way with their competence and confidence. It is important to prepare the environment for success (low tables, shelves, and materials accessible). We want to empower them with the tools they need. Toddlers want to be involved and help, it’s important to model behaviors and expectations. You will be surprised what these little ones are capable of doing. As they get older they will be able to practice different and more challenging activities. 

Great book full of ideas and activities: ‘Teach me to do it myself’ by Maja Pitamic

Website with ideas on Practical Life activities: