“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities, which they can perform themselves. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence." - Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child Practical Life is one of the basic areas in a Montessori curriculum. It prepares a child for other areas involved in a Montessori education Program. The activities of this area teach a child about order, coordination, and independence. Its aim is develop a child’s intellect through innovative activities, to form a logical and ‘orderly’ mind.
The Four Areas of Practical Life
Preliminary Activities These activities provide the foundation and set the stage for all works in the Montessori classroom. These include such tasks as how to roll and unroll a mat, how to walk around a mat, how to sharpen a pencil, how to put down a chair, and walking on the line.
Care of Self These activities provide the means for children to become physically independent. These may include such activities as how to wash hands, how to brush teeth, how to pack a lunch, how to pack an overnight bag, and how to tie shoes.
Care of the Environment Learning how to clean is very important in the Montessori classroom. These activities may include how to set the table, how to clean dishes and cutlery, how to sweep the floor, how to dust the shelves, how to water the plants, and how to clean up spills.
Social Graces and Courtesies These activities are not found on the shelves. Rather, the Montessori teacher introduces social graces and courtesies such as how to shake hands, saying please and thank you, how to interrupt someone, and how to cough and sneeze.
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