The Montessori Method provides an advantage for the child to gain motivation and learn life skills at a very young age. It allows the child to gain independence and self-discipline in the Montessori classroom as well as at home. With the practical life curriculum, it provides a scope and sequence for these everyday routines and practices. The purpose of practical life activities in a Montessori setting allows the child to develop motor control and coordination, independence, boosts their self-esteem, concentration as well as establishes a sense of responsibility. Therefore the exercises in the area of activities of everyday life/ practical life cover two main areas of development which is care of self and care of the environment.
What are practical life activities? Practical life activities are activities that can start with something small such as learning to dress themselves or washing hands to even difficult actions such as washing dishes. These types of practical life activities are capable for all ages, even infants depending on what the child is able to do at each stage of their development.
Why are practical life activities necessary? The skills learned while doing practical life activities at a very young age allows them to follow a complex motor sequence, independently in order for them to fulfil his or hers own desires and needs. These abilities will allow the child to believe in themselves as well as develop the self-discipline needed for success throughout their lives. Thus the practical life Montessori curriculum teaches the child things they need to learn and does it in a way that is a piece with more academic disciplines, developing the same key fundamental executive and emotional skills.
There are four areas of practical life include: 1) Preliminary activities: These activities provide the foundation and set the stage for all works in the Montessori classroom. These include such tasks as how to roll and unroll a mat, how to walk around a mat, how to sharpen a pencil, how to put down a chair, and walking on the line. 2) Care of Self: These activities provide the means for children to become physically independent. These may include such activities as how to wash hands, how to brush teeth, how to pack a lunch, how to pack an overnight bag, and how to tie shoes. 3) Care of the Environment: Learning how to clean is very important in the Montessori classroom. These activities may include how to set the table, how to clean dishes and cutlery, how to sweep the floor, how to dust the shelves, how to water the plants, and how to clean up spills. 4) Social Graces and Courtesies: These activities are not found on the shelves. Rather, the Montessori teacher introduces social graces and courtesies such as how to shake hands, saying please and thank you, how to interrupt someone, and how to cough and sneeze.
"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