One of the pleasures of watching a child grow is being shocked out of taking the mundane for granted. The most ordinary things that we seemingly know without thinking and can do without trying, are for the child wondrous, new discoveries and engaging, joyous challenges. This includes the everyday routines and practices of life: preparing food, dressing oneself, cleaning, habitual courtesies, and more—these are for the child new, maybe daunting, exciting tasks that are visibly part of the human world and that are empowering to master.
One of the hallmarks of the Montessori method is that it takes full advantage of the child’s motivation to learn these things at a very young age. The practical life curriculum in Montessori provides a scope and sequence for these everyday routines and practices. And exactly like the other, more academic areas in the Montessori classroom, the Montessori approach offers a pedagogy that elevates and empowers the child in her pursuit of these skills. Practical life in Montessori is purposeful activity, develops motor control and coordination, and develops independence, concentration, and a sense of responsibility. The exercises in practical life cover two main areas of development: care of self, and care of the environment.
What are practical life activities?
Practical life activities are applicable for all ages, even infants, and change depending on what the child can do at each stage of development. The activities can start with something as simple as pulling pants up or washing hands and can get as complicated as baking a dessert, or even developing a business plan in the elementary or middle school years.