Practical Life Exercise

“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.” Maria Montessori

Practical Life exercises can be considered the heart and soul of the Montessori method. Everyday activities such as folding, dressing, spooning, pouring, cleaning, prepare the child for the next stage, the Sensorial Area.

The exercises are seemingly common activities which adults take for granted, yet the child delights in practicing, thus developing gross motor and coordination skills, independence, and self-esteem. Practical Life exercises fall into four categories:

Caring for the Self

Self-care is considered to be an activity which the child learns to take care of their body and belongings. For example, by learning how to brush teeth or hair, dressing, wiping nose, packing own bag or washing hands and face, children learn the importance of good hygiene and develop self-respect.

Grace & Courtesy

One of the foundations of the Montessori method, Grace & Courtesy teach a child important social skills and how to conduct themselves around others in social situations. For example, how to sneeze, cough, blow nose, let someone pass, or open a door for a friend are all part of Grace & Courtesy. Teachers and adults play the part of role models and demonstrate how to be gracious and courteous at all times.

Caring for the Environment

Here a child learns how to care for plants and pets, clean and tidy their environment. Sweeping, dusting, polishing shoes or ornaments, are all Practical Life exercises which young children enjoy. These exercises instill a love and respect for nature and connect a child to the real world. For example, when a child cuts and arranges flowers into a vase, then sets the table with matching mats and cutlery, not only are they experiencing a great sense of achievement, but they are also serving the world and developing essential life skills.

Control of Movement of Self & Objects.

Learning how to open a door or drawer, carry a chair, walk on a line, pour liquid or transfer with a spoon or tweezers are considered to be part of control of self and objects. For example, when children carefully transfer rice with a spoon between two bowls, they develop concentration and hand – eye coordination, or when pouring liquid from a ceramic jug, they learn about capacity and control.

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