Your first few weeks as a Montessori parent are filled with just as many revelations as you know that your child experiences. While many concepts are instantly familiar, such as recognizing the importance of individualization, others may leave you scratching your head. The role of practical life experiences in your child's classroom is one of the hallmark traits of the methods teachers use in this type of program. Now that your child is beginning to engage in activities such as scooping and pouring, you can use this guide to deepen your understanding of the importance of practical life lessons at school and at home.
Recognizing What Practical Life Looks Like In the Classroom
In a well organized classroom, you should notice children easily moving from one activity to another, and the children will rarely be doing the same things. While one child may be quietly putting together a flower arrangement, another may be preparing the table for lunch. These types of activities are practical life experiences that are naturally incorporated into the day. You will also notice that the materials children need to perform practical life skills are readily available. There may also be a practical life area in the classroom such as a shelf with items that help children explore new skills on their own such as a button or zipper board.
Taking a Deeper Look
The primary purpose of practical life experiences is to help children learn how to care for their environment and themselves. Yet, the lessons children glean from these experiences go even deeper than just learning how to manage daily tasks. For instance, the procedure for washing a table involves moving a washcloth from the top of the table to the bottom using left to right wiping motions. Although it is not readily obvious to children, these movements also teach early reading skills and promote a sense of calm.
Supporting Your Child's Emerging Abilities at Home
During the day, your child learns valuable practical life lessons at Montessori school that you can replicate at home. For instance, your child can use a child-size broom to help sweep the floor after a cutting activity, or they can work side-by-side with you to cut up a banana for a snack. When planning practical life activities, always use realistic materials, and make them as accessible to your child as possible so that they can do them independently.
Practical life lessons teach your child the skills that they need to be successful in any environment. Now that you understand what this concept involves, get started by observing how your child engages in their classroom so that you can support their learning at home.