Montessori in the Absorbent Mind writes that “the hands are instruments of man’s intelligence”. It is therefore critical that children develop the ability to control and coordinate their hand muscle so that these can come into contact with the environment in intelligent ways.
Discuss the principles underlining the practical life exercises and how it fosters independence in children.
A child in the first six years becomes a full member of her particular culture and family group absorbing language, attitudes, manners and values of those in which she comes in daily contact. A child develops properly if they are in an environment full of affection, love, caring and support. They feel comfortable and safe when they find a secure and lovable environment.
Children learn according to their abilities. In the first six years of life they do this by imitating those around them. To support this we should provide them a physical and social environment suitable for them. We should provide the children with the tools they can create by themselves. Children are able to explore, investigate and fulfil the natural curiosity about the world around them. The child's purposes are not to complete the task as much as to construct the self.
In addition, Dr Maria Montessori developed her philosophy of education based upon actual observations of children. She said children prefer work than play, and they can only be in their natural self, when their natural self is satisfied through work. It’s also through work they acquire independence, order, the power of concentration and be normalized. Exercises of Practical Life were introduced and were recognized at the very heart of Montessori Education for it provides the opportunity for the child’s development of physical co-ordination, social skills, emotional growth as well as cognitive preparation.
Practical Life Activities are the first activities the child is introduced to within the Montessori environment. These exercises are prepared based on activities children witnesses in their day to day life. That is why children can immediately satisfy their inner needs and desires by mastering these exercises independently. Also Practical Life area allows children to do the things what adults do every day, for example cleaning, dressing or greeting people. As we know that children construct their knowledge by themselves through their life exercises.
Motive of Practical Life Exercises
Practical Life Curriculum area has four main direct aims; Order, Co-ordination, independence and Concentration. Dr Maria Montessori observed that children need order at a specific sensitive period in their development. I f not provided during this period the opportunity is foregone. A routine is very important as well as a place for everything and everything in its place. This offers the child for orderly self construction. Co-ordination refers to coordinating large and small muscle movements as well as eye-hand co-ordination that reflect the respective development of child’s mental life. In the practical life exercise of Montessori they learns to concentrate, to develop the fine-gross motor skills-i.e. controlling the muscle, to develop language, to develop the mathematical concepts, they will be good in care of environment, they will be good in logical steps and they are ready to complete the cycle of activity. This is will be the good basement for the children not only in the early childhood, but throughout in life.
“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities, which they can perform themselves. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs, and to attempt to satisfy their desires...