We’re pulling from our archives for this helpful series on Practical Life.
In a Montessori classroom the Practical Life area is one of the first areas that a child explores. This section of the classroom provides the child with real-life materials that help to develop coordination, concentration, independence, and order.
Through the exercises of Practical Life, the child learns the skills that enable him to become an independent being. From birth, the child is striving for independence. As concerned adults, parents, and teachers, we should help him on his path by showing him the skills he needs to achieve this end.
Having been shown a skill, the child then needs freedom to practice and to perfect. In a Montessori classroom preschool children learn basic motor skills in the Practical Life area by teaching themselves and learning from other children rather than by specific adult instruction. As the child becomes absorbed in an interesting activity he develops concentration. If the activity is appropriate and meets a need, it will be interesting for the child. The longer the child is absorbed by an activity the better for the development of concentration.
Through activity, the child learns to control his movements. The idea that the path to intellectual development occurs through the hands is a major theme in the Montessori Method. The exercises of Practical Life provide opportunities for the development of both gross motor and fine motor movements.
In addition, the child learns to keep the environment in a clean and ordered way, putting everything away in its right place. He is taught to approach new tasks in an ordered way, to carry it out carefully, to complete the activity, and finally, how to clean up and put the materials way. Engaging in this complete process encourages logical thinking.