Practical Life Introduction
By Ann Kamentz
The area of practical life is the first area that children are introduced to in the Montessori classroom. This area contains an orderly arrangement of exercises involving familiar objects and the activities of daily life. These will be things that the children have already seen their parents or guardians doing and then they want to imitate. For example: pouring, spooning, various cleaning exercises and others. The practical life exercises are designed to encourage independence and assist in the development of concentration and inner discipline. The exercises are ordered and graded, with earlier exercises providing all the skills needed for the more advanced ones. The orderliness of the area helps children feel secure, orient themselves in the classroom, and develop the inner order necessary for clear and rational thought. The grading of the exercises ensures that children frequently experience success when attempting new exercises, thus fostering self-confidence and self-esteem, both necessary qualities for fulfilled and successful living. Practical life exercises fall under four basic categories: care of self, care of environment, elementary movement and grace and courtesy. Care of self includes skills necessary for dressing independently such as zipping, buttoning, and tying. We have dressing frames in the classroom to help them learn how to do this and we also encourage them to try to zip their own coats too. Care of environment includes teaching responsibility of the world around us. We have them scrub chairs, wash dishes, care for plants and help feed the fish. Elementary movement promotes a sense of accomplishment and self-esteem through activities that are real, precise, and practical. Some examples are folding laundry and rolling rugs. Large motor skills would be learned at line for example balance and graceful movement. Grace and courtesy is a result of social responsibility. Examples of this...
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