Practical life exercises

Topics: Maria Montessori, Montessori method, Developmental psychology Pages: 13 (5076 words) Published: June 27, 2014
Dr. Maria Montessori is the founder of the Montessori method of education. She started her first classroom “Casa dei Bambini” or Children’s House in 1907. Montessori method of education stresses the importance of respecting children - “Help me to help myself”. Montessori education celebrates its 100th year in 2007. The goals of a Montessori education were to develop sensory training, language acquisition, arithmetic, physical education, practical life skills and abstract thought through the teaching of the whole child and the integration of the family into the early education system. Montessori began her educational experiences by working with special needs children. At the time of Montessori, special needs children were thought of as a “lost cause”. They could not learn how to become members of society because intelligence was fixed. She strongly opposed to the perceptions on cognitive abilities of these children at the time, and believed that they could learn how to become members of society through special teaching techniques that utilized sensory education and hands-on experience. Her aim was to teach children academics through practical life experiences and to “…to develop the whole personality of the child through motor, sensory, and intellectual activity” (Hainstock, 1997, 35). Montessori -

The Montessori classroom is a meticulously prepared environment designed specifically to meet the needs of the child both physically and emotionally.  One aspect of the prepared environment includes the Practical Life activities.  Many Practical Life activities are tasks the child sees routinely performed in the home.  They each serve a meaningful purpose as the child masters each piece of work such as tying shoes, pouring water, sweeping, or sewing and cooking. Through Practical Life activities, a child will also develop and refine social skills.  These skills developed through Practical Life build self-esteem, determination and independence. 

The student learns to take care of him and the surrounding environment.  Maria Montessori explains in, The Discovery of the Child, “Through practical life exercises of this sort the children develop a true ‘social feeling,’ for they are working in the environment of the community in which they live” (5, pg. 97). Additionally, fine motor skills are improved through use of the Practical Life materials. Through repeated tasks which enable a child to refine concentration, coordination, independence, and order, a child’s sense of self-worth grows.  The Practical Life skills are an essential component in the Montessori classroom.  Not only do they provide a link between home and school for the new Montessori student, but they provide a foundation for life-long love of While appearing quite simple and repetitive, Practical Life activities are highly purposeful.  A child engaged in such activities demonstrates high levels of concentration, sense of order, and refinement of fine motor skills.  Also, they show a sense of independence through caring for oneself and the environment. Furthermore, they show respect for classmates and teachers and develop a sense of pride.  Not only are these skills and qualities necessary to progress in the Montessori classroom, but they are also needed as an individual develops into adulthood. 

Practical Life activities can be divided into six main categories. First, are Preliminary Exercises which assist in creating routine and order in the environment and are prerequisites for other activities. How to a roll a mat, carry a chair, or how to open and close a door are examples of Preliminary Exercises.  Practical life exercises also include Fundamental Skills such as pouring, spooning, or tonging. As with all lessons in the Montessori classroom, these activities follow a sequential...
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