Maria Montessori said that if she had just one area in a classroom for children to learn from, she would not pick Math, or Literacy, or anything academic – she would pick Practical Life. She believed that every other skill and knowledge area could be accessed through teaching practical life skills to children. Math? Think of measuring for recipes, or telling time, or making change for a customer at a coffee shop. Science? The chemical reactions in baking, using simple machines for building, understanding how our bodies work so that we can care for them. Literacy? Making signs, reading a how-to guide, or writing a persuasive speech about caring for the environment. Motor skills? Cutting, pouring, scooping, mixing, walking carefully while carrying a glass pitcher, and so much more. Although Practical Life looks different at each level, it is an integral part of all Montessori classrooms at The Glen.
How Practical Life Grows with Your Child
Last week, we talked about the importance of Practical Life to the Montessori child. Today, we will see how it develops with your growing child.
In the Birth-3 classroom, Practical Life activities help children learn how to be independent in taking care of their body and their needs. For example, even the youngest children learn how to open their lunch containers, clear their plates after lunch, and wipe their faces clean. They practice these activities with shelf activities as well as “in the moment.”
In Children’s House, the Practical Life activities are based upon a child’s need for order and movement, and they are designed to build independence, concentration, coordination and a sense of order. Children not only practice skills such as pouring, spooning and scooping, but also table washing, wiping their noses and walking carefully in the environment.
The Practical Life skills in Elementary reflect that the children at this age are beginning to be more a part of the world around them. They learn how to take care of their classroom, including classroom pets. The Upper Elementary children learn important management and interpersonal skills such as running the coffee shop and Pizza Friday. And all Elementary children run a Community Meeting each day, in which they solve classroom problems and build community.