Practical Life Exercises

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The child's conquest for independence begins with his  birth. The child's nature is to achieve directly and energetically functional independence. A vital force pushes him on this path and this force is what we know to be the HORME. The child's conquests of independence are the basic steps in the natural development of human beings. This is true not only in the mental but physical field also . The baby is freed from the mothers womb and this also makes him independent of her bodily processes- he is then out in the world with an urge to absorb all around him.By absorbing what he finds around him, he forms his own personality. 

When he is born , he cannot speak or express himself and his needs but soon he learns to talk and does not need anyone to guess his needs , he can articulate them himself. Learning to speak brings with it the power to converse intelligently, the most impressive step in the path of independence. And when they learn to talk, no one can stop them from chattering non stop….what we need to give them is an environment rich in spoken words and they master a language…. they pick up about 3000 words in a year in the beginning. . Walking is another big step, literally. No other mammal has to learn to walk like human beings. Calves walk immediately after birth like most other mammals , so its a huge  physiological milestone for a child. Like talking, once they learn to walk, they just love to keep walking all the time, mastering their newly acquired skill and developing the muscles which they will need for strengthening  their legs. This is an independence the body strives for and achieves naturally with no help from outside .

So the child who has extended his independence by acquiring new powers can only develop normally if he is left free to exert those powers .He develops by the exercise of that independence he has just gained. Development does not happen by itself alone, it is greatly aided by the child’s horme and the freedom given to him by adults in a stimulating environment.

"The behavior of every individual is a product of his environmental experiences"

Maria Montessori- The Montessori Way- Tim Seldin and Paul Epstien.

So the first thing education demands is provision of an environment in which he can develop the powers given to him by nature.  This environment needs to have freedom for the child to grow as a wholesome personality. Montessori spoke of freedom of movement , freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom to grow, freedom to love and be loved, freedom from danger, competition, and freedom from pressure. Learning how to work and play together with others in a peaceful and caring community is perhaps the most critical life skill that Montessori teaches. Lets look at some of these freedoms essential for a child’s development briefly.

Children move about freely in a Montessori classroom and there is no division of work periods. They move at their free will and choose their own activity. This freedom is detrimental in developing good working habits and sustained concentration. When a child chooses his own activity he is likely to sustain his interest in it for longer than when it is imposed on him. Children are free to initiate activities with other children but without disrupting or interrupting  anyone.  Then there is the freedom to grow. The child has chosen his own activity and activities in Practical Life Exercises or PLE grow from simple to complex, so as he masters the simple and moves on to the complex, he is constructing his inner self with the freedom given to him and the independently done activities.  When children are loved unconditionally they learn to love back unconditionally. This unconditional love will again help in building a secure human being. Freedom from danger- children in Montessori classrooms are given real scissors and knives, after having being given a presentation on how to handle them. This also makes the child feel trusted by the adult.  ...
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