The Importance of Practical Life
The exercises of Practical Life are formative activities, a work of adaptation to the environment. Such adaptation to the environment and efficient functioning therein is the very essence of a useful education. – Maria Montessori
Practical Life prepares the child for independence, builds confidence and concentration, and prepares the child for a life of learning and growing both in and out of the classroom (or homeschool room on our case!) environment. As parents, our goal is to prepare the child to live successfully and independently in society a part from us therefore, even if you do not follow The Montessori Method in your child’s educational journey, this is one piece that you should consider adding to your Little’s at home work/play.
It is a HUGE part of the curriculum for the first plane of development (0-6). The direct aim is to gain independence and prepare to function in society. Indirect aims are the growth and development of both intellect and concentration. Practical life work plays a role in fostering an orderly way of thinking and problem solving. It also teaches mindfulness, how to treat others, our materials, and our toys (as well as other objects in the environment!)
The child’s inner need: help me to do it myself. – Maria Montessori
Children are designed to observe the world around them and then to explore it. They first start in the home environment. Children want to do it themselves, even when they cannot. The parent’s role is to make a task accessible for them. Ask yourself, how can I help my child to do it alone? Does a stool need to be added? Do they have their own table and chairs that are child sized? Tools that are child sized (and functional!) Another great question to ask yourself as you consider where to start with Practical Life activities in the home, “what am I doing for my child that they can do for themselves?” They will not always to choose to do it on their own but you can give them the opportunity to.
What all does practical life cover? There are preliminary exercises that are the building blocks for the rest of the works the child will encounter both within the practical life curriculum and in the rest of the child’s educational journey. Then there is care of self, care of environment, and grace & courtesy lessons.
Practical life gives the child the opportunity to build:
- Fine and Gross Motor Skills
- Coordination and carefulness in movements
- Problem Solving Skills
- Pre-writing prep (strength and dexterity for writing)
- Pre-reading prep (develop left to right movement in preparation for reading)
- Pre-math skills (organic counting, measuring, etc.)
- Respect for environment (inside and out)
- Respect for others
- Social Skills
I go into more detail on preparing to teach Montessori 3-6 at home in this post BUT I wanted to share my favorite resources to help get you started on your practical life journey here:
- Info Montessori – Montessori Primary Guide (3-6). We heavily rely on this site for scope and sequence for our whole curriculum (minus Bible and Spanish!)
- The Kavanaugh Report – FANTASTIC for ideas on toddler + activities
- Trillium Montessori – She has great ideas for shelf work and themes in general. I have LOVED all the practical life shelf work she has shared.
- “The Montessori Toddler” by Simone Davies – This book is 0-3 and heavy on practical life. It is an easy read and has a great list of activities that covers toddlerhood and into the 3-6 classroom.
- Living Montessori Now – Another great site with practical life ideas for toddler+
If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend reading Maria Montessori’s books as well. I’ve read both “The Montessori Method” and “The Absorbent Mind” more than once!
Do you incorporate practical life activities into your home? If not, I hope this inspires you too!