What are practical life activities in the Montessori classroom? The name says it all. If you’re new to Montessori education, take a look at what you need to know about these in-school exercises and how your young child can benefit from them.
Types of Activities
Practical life activities include a variety of exercises that provide the young child with the chance to learn through doing. These hands-on activities put the child in the center of the action, allowing them to explore and make discoveries for themselves.
What types of practical life activities can you expect your child to engage in? While specific selections vary by classroom, the general categories include:
- Care of self. These practical life experiences are the activities of daily life. Think of what you need to do to independently take care of yourself for a full picture of what this category covers. Major activities include dressing, shoe tying, hand-washing, and exercising.
- Life skills. Closely related to self-care, this category includes activities such as food prep/cooking, sewing, and using simple tools.
- Care of the environment. This category includes practical life activities that help the child to keep their immediate area clean and safe. Children do everything from washing a table with water to arranging flowers in a vase.
Along with these hands-on activities, practical content also includes the verbal skills your child needs in everyday life — such as conflict resolution, polite conversation, and offering help to others in need.
Activities in Action
A range of specific activities exist within each category of practical life activities. These are done one at a time, providing the child with the opportunity to fully explore the action. This pace doesn’t mean that the teacher will encourage the child to pick one activity and stick with it all day. Instead, the child is guided through the process and works within the individual activity until they feel that it is complete and they’re ready to move on.
Unlike the pretend play mock kitchen or dress-up lessons you’d see in a traditional classroom, practical life activities are reality-based. The child won’t pretend to wipe off a table after a meal — they’ll use a real rag and water to clean the table. The same goes for the rest of the practical life options that exist in Montessori classrooms.
The child uses real tools (provided that they are safe and used under the supervision of a responsible adult) that do real jobs. These tools are all child-sized, so the students can use them effectively.
Montessori practical life ideas are also sequential. Each activity has a distinct set of steps or beginning, middle, and end. Beyond chronological sequence, the activities also provide a framework for the child to extend their development, moving from basic to complex.
Benefits of the Activities
Why should young children engage in practical life activities? These activities compliment other types of curricular or content areas, help the child to develop confidence, and so much more. Developmental benefits you’re likely to see from practical life exercises include:
- Self-confidence. As the child masters the tasks of the activity, they develop pride in their own accomplishments.
- Problem-solving. While clearing and cleaning a table may seem straightforward or basic to you, for a young child this is a new task that requires critical thinking and problem-solving. These mental benefits also apply to other practical skills the child engages in.
- Self-discipline. Practical life activities teach the child that they are in control when it comes to caring for themselves and caring for their environment.
- Social skills. Practical life skills that involve communication and interacting with others provide a real-life way to teach effective social skills.
The learning doesn’t stop with these areas; with every discovery the child makes they’re developing and building skills that they can use right now and in the future.
Is your child ready to start a Montessori educational experience? Contact Miniapple International Montessori Schools for more information.