The heart and soul of any Montessori classroom, from toddler to adolescent, is the area called Practical Life. This work strongly supports and develops a child’s growing independence, responsibility, focus, adaptability, and awareness of their role within an inter-dependent community. As an extra bonus, inherent within these activities are, grace and courtesy lessons, specific physical movements that help refine fine and gross motor skills that progress naturally according to the individual child’s stage of development. The enormous benefits that are gained from the enjoyable practical life activities continue to support the student’s success and happiness throughout the curriculum.
When initially introduced to the practical life area, students work on specific skills. Although there is not a designated Practical Life area at the primary level, there is a wide variety of work that extends and refines the skills they acquired in their earlier years. This year in the Malati classroom (Upper Primary), the students are able to take complete responsibility for the cleaning of the classroom because of their developed sweeping, mopping, dusting, and washing skills. Acquired pouring skills are now used when measuring to precise levels during science experiments, or when preparing and pouring tea for visitors or literature circle participants. Student’s initial care of plants has now blossomed into designing and building their own garden with an irrigation system and growing various herbs, fruits, and vegetables that they will use in their food preparation where they will utilize their chopping, cutting and peeling skills. The sequencing and organizational skills derived from engaging in real life activities now helps them to organizing smaller trips to purchase necessities for the classroom that are sold in local stores. Further benefits are seen when they exercise time management during food preparation and their day -to -day work.
As a guide, I love to observe the focused enjoyment and satisfaction that students exhibit when they successfully do things for themselves. The work of practical life has the most fundamental and immediate impact on the students’ enthusiasm for their physical environment, community, independence, and self -esteem.,