Montessori Practical Life

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Theoretical Introduction
By Dorothy Mari de Graaf
In this assignment I will be discussing the importance and different aspects of the Practical Life area in the classroom.

“Watching a child, makes it obvious that the development of his mind, comes through his movements.” (Montessori,1995, chapter 13, page 131.) The above clearly explains Maria Montessori’s conclusion that it is only through the practice of movement that a child can learn and develop. For this reason she decided to incorporate the area of Practical Life into her classroom, as this is where the practice begins. Through the exercises of Practical life, the child learns to adapt to his environment, learn self-control, see himself as part of a society and most importantly, grow intellectually through working with his hands and master the skills needed for his future.

I will now look into the points of Practical Life:

The link between the home and the school:

There are many links between the home and the school in the area of Practical life. It is the first section introduced to the new child in the classroom. Maria Montessori stated that “Children feel a special interest for those things already rendered to them (by absorbtion) in the earlier period”.(Montessori,1995, page 172.) This explains that the activities in the class are familiar to the child, as many of them are done at home. The child can therefore settle in easily and master the skills with confidence while learning co-ordination of movement and relate back to past experiences at home.

How does the adult and the child learn differently and the reasons for their work.

Standing stated “The adult works with an external aim, to accomplish some change in his environment.”(Standing,1998, page 142.) This explains that the adult works to live and restore conditions through the division of labour and trying to reach a maximum result with using little effort. We can see in the words by Standing “The aim of the child’ work is not external but internal. He works in order to grow.”(Standing, 1998, page 143), that the child works in order to grow their inner being, gain pleasure and spiritual fulfillment. Without work his personality cannot develop.

With regards to learning, the adult learns consciously and with mush effort, whereas the child learns effortlessly and through the absorbent mind. By learning this way, the child is able to take in all experiences learnt and understood from the environment and use them to help form his very being.

The importance of movement in the childs development:

The child must be given the means and allowance to move in order to develop. If he is allowed to do so, he can then progress to other activities with an increased level of difficulty by learning skills, mastering language, developing their gross and fine motor skills and social development etc. This can be clearly understood in the statement by Standing, “The value of movement goes deeper than just helping in the acquisition of knowledge. It is in fact the basis for development of personality.” (Standing, 1998, page 230)

Analysis of movement:
Defined by Montessori herself “The analysis of movements consists in trying to recognize and carry to carry out exactly these separate and distinct acts.”(Montessori, class notes.) We can then state that each movement is made up of small steps or actions that must be shown to the child in order to master the activity. The adult must analyze, practice and be aware of each movement in order to see and understand the skills needed for each activity. It is vital for us as adults to do this so we can show the child what is involved.

The four areas of Practical Life:

Introductory / Preliminary Activities:
This area of activities is introduced to help the child learn the skills needed to perform everyday activities to prepare for the future. Eg. Carrying a chair.

Care of the Self:
This area involves activities that able the child to look after...
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