Practical Life

Practical Life is foundationally important in the development of the whole child. As mentioned at Open House and Parent Night, this is one of the five defined learning areas  that should be evident in every Montessori classroom. The three categories in practical life are care of self, care for others and care of the environment. Introductory work of moving carefully around the classroom, rolling a rug, sitting on the line, moving a table and replacing work on the proper shelf inform grace and courtesy, independence and capability. When a child is held accountable for the actions to which he is capable, self confidence begins to take root. Grasping, pouring, spooning, tweezing, squeezing, scrubbing, cutting, polishing, sweeping and more all help in the muscle memory of refined movement and focused control of the hands. This control will facilitate zipping, buttoning, tying and of course writing. Accepting and encouraging these actions benefit both the child and the parent by fostering a self confident and independent human being. It is the beginning of the realization that if one can and does care for oneself, perhaps one can be of help in caring for others. The activities of flower arranging, watering plants, gardening and tidying make one aware that the world is greater than “I” and that “I” have a role in creating peaceful spaces and effecting outcomes. For the child, gardening helps them understand the relationship we have with the food we eat. Our visit to the pumpkin patch was a tangible reminder of how often we fail to recognize that relationship. If you recall, the pumpkins were beautifully displayed in a created “patch.”  A short lesson on where pumpkins come from beginning with the seed is important for the child that frequents the grocery store and has minimal exposure to an actual garden. Humanity’s relationship to the earth and all that the earth provides for us is important to our very existence. Practical life in a Montessori classroom acknowledges that importance.
As you raise your children and grow with them, please recognize the life lessons inherent when your child helps you cook, put groceries away, clean up him/herself, clean up the common areas as well as his/her bedroom. For the child it is far more than just completing a chore. It is nurturing one’s independence, self- confidence, responsibility, muscle coordination and control. Let practical flourish in your homes as it helps to create whole children.
In peace and respect for the children,

Council Oak Montessori School