The Montessori Practical Life area is the foundation for the Montessori environment. The work done in this area prepares the child for reading, writing, and math studies, as well as preparing her for life. There are five direct aims in each lesson plan.
This is probably the most important skill learned in Montessori Practical Life. The rhythmic process of pouring beans from one pitcher to another, or scrubbing a table, allows a child to deeply relax and self-regulate. The more relaxed and regulated the child becomes, the better he can concentrate. The deeper his concentration, the more open he becomes to learning.
Montessori practical life activities refine those fine motor skills as they strengthen finger muscles. This coordination is required when manipulating materials in both the home and classroom environments. Coordination also helps the child be physically balanced. When feeling physically fit, the child can work on mental and spiritual fitness.
As coordination develops, the child is better able to control himself. This control extends beyond the physical realm to the spiritual and intellectual realms, as well.
All children want to be independent. As adults, we become used to doing everything for them. It is hard to let go of control. But, we need to feed that desire for independence. Children learn important life skills as they manipulate materials in Practical Life. Pouring, scooping, spooning, and food prep help them with basic eating and serving skills. The dressing frames teach them to dress themselves. Scrubbing a table helps them maintain a clean environment. Even more important is the confidence that the child gains when he achieves a new goal. "Help me to do it myself."
Children in the early childhood years crave order in their lives. Practical life activities are presented in a particular order. They are sequenced on the shelves in order of difficulty. Steps to each process are given in a specific order. Order creates comfort. Comfort leads to more learning. Order learned in Montessori practical life also lays the foundation for the order used when learning how to read and perform math operations.
Montessori practical life lays the foundation for the child's foray into the other areas of the classroom, as well as preparing him for life. Implement these activities in the home to compliment the classroom.
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