Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.
What are Practical Life Exercises?
Practical Life Exercises are the foundation of the Montessori environment; they provide purposeful activities which allow children to develop control and coordination of movement, awareness of their environment, orderly thought patterns, independent work habits, responsibility, and meaningful work.
Transferring exercises in the Practical Life area of each classroom provide interesting opportunities for the child to build hand-eye coordination, develop focus and attention, refine motor-skills and hone muscular control. All lessons in practical life work on order, coordination, independence, and concentration.
The toddler classrooms begin Practical Life Exercises by sponge-squeezing. This experience promotes ‘whole-hand’ work which aids in dexterity and fine motor function. This activity and others such as how to properly carry a tray, rolling up a work rug, pushing in a chair, folding, carrying a sharp object, opening a bottle, and acclimation to the new classroom environment. How to safely move their bodies while in school. Preliminary lessons correlate to real world experiences which fulfills children’s needs for dramatic play using materials that are child-sized.
For this portion of the curriculum students learn how to wash their hands correctly, proper bathroom etiquette, buttoning, zippering, buckling, lacing, polishing and snack preparation. This aspect of the curriculum is what allows children to take the initiative to learn how to manage themselves in their environment.
Care of the Environment
These activities include washing the chalkboard, dusting, polishing, arranging flowers, setting a table, sweeping, and mopping. Our community garden also offers students the ability to learn about weeding, maintaining plants, caring for birds, and sweeping outdoor areas.
Grace and Courtesy
These exercises are meant to satisfy young children’s need for order. Grace and courtesy lessons give children the vocabulary and appropriate actions for greetings, salutations, yawning, coughing, interrupting, and offering help. These exercises help allow for a pleasant classroom environment and transfer to home life as well.
Control of Movement
An aspect of movement is the ‘walking the line’ lesson. Initially, just walking from heel to toe on a straight line, then children progress and carry objects such as baskets, flags, or bells. As a child learns to control their body movements they become more confident.
For video demonstrations of Montessori activities click here.