Practical Life; Why is it so Important?
“Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.” ~ Maria Montessori
Pictures are from Central Montessori Academy 2020. Toddlers (18- 36 months) do not wear masks Pre-Primary (3-6 years) wear masks.
Practical Life activities are the activities of everyday life and they are involved in all aspects of life. The child observes these activities in the environment and gains knowledge through the real experience of how to accomplish life skills in a purposeful way. These activities are cultural and specific to the child’s time and place. Practical life activities help give the child a sense of being and belonging, established through participation in daily life with us. Through practical life the child learns about his culture and all about what it is to be human. Generally the activities of practical life revolve around four areas: Caring for the Self, Caring for the Environment, Grace & Courtesy and Movement of Objects. There is another area which encompasses all four areas and which is a very important part of practical life, namely food. Practical Life activities are an integral part of any Montessori environment.
Why is Practical Life Activities Important in a Toddler and Early Childhood Classroom (3-6 year old classroom)?
There is no better way to learn about why Maria Montessori believed practical life was so important then by reading her own words….
“When we speak about the behaviour of men and animals, we refer to their purposeful movements. This behaviour is the centre of their practical life. It is not just the practical life in a house, cleaning rooms, watering plants, etc., that is important, but the fact that everyone in the world must move with a purpose and must work, not only for himself but also for others. It is strange that man’s work must also be work in service of others; if this were not so, his work would have no more meaning than gymnastic exercises. All work is done not only for ourselves but also for others. Even something as frivolous as dancing would be pointless without an audience. The dancers, who perfect their movements with so much trouble and fatigue, dance for others. Tailors who spend their lives sewing could not wear all the clothes they make themselves. Yet tailoring, like gymnastics, requires lots of movements.
If you have a vision of the cosmic purpose, that every life in the world is based on this movement with a purpose, you will be able to understand and better direct the children’s work. In the beginning, children are urged by nature to be active. They are happy when they are active. They begin to develop the behaviour of humanity with its limits and its possibilities. Movement is closely connected to psychic life; we must move with intelligence, will, character, etc.” ~By: Maria Montessori
What does practical life look like in a Montessori Classroom?
This video produced by American Montessori Society is a great way to see the practical life curriculum in a Montessori classroom.