What is practical life in the Montessori Method?

Practical Life activities and why they matter.

Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori method, believed that children are naturally interested in activities they have seen before. She called these activies “practical life exercises.”

Being that young children have spent most of their time at home with their mothers, most of these activities include household tasks like pouring, folding, mopping, and dusting.  You’ll also activities tailored to other life skills like proper hand washing, and using grace and courtesy.

The purpose and aim of the practical life activities is to gain control and coordination of their movement and gain independence.  Practical Life activities are meant to resemble everyday life so materials are familiar, functional, and child-sized.

For example, you may want to purchase a real child-sized broom instead of a toy version.   A real broom will allow the child to get the feel of sweeping the floor and help him build the muscle memory he/she will need for 

For other examples of what could be included in the the practical life area of your center, check out this post.

Why is practical life important in montessori?

It can be a challenge to explain to parents the importance of the Practical Life lessons.Often, parents send their students to preschool expecting them to learn strictly “academic” skills.

Life skills are often overlooked or undervalued.   However, practical life activities are so important for Montessori Preschoolers, perhaps even the MOST important activities they will participate in.  At this stage in development, children are still learning to master several skills that are necessary for completing practical life activities.

So what are the benefits of practical life exercises in montessori?

When children focus on these tasks, they are building skills that they will carry throughout life.  For example, when children are cleaning a table, they are demonstrating a high level of concentration.  More so, they are learning to respect their environment by developing a sense of order and pride in a job well done.  Not to mention, they are improving fine motor coordination.


Only recently, with the rising number of children diagnosed with Autism and ADHD, have the public school systems begun to catch up to this mindset.  Although not offered in the mainstream classrooms, life skills are now being taught in special education classrooms across the country.

Examples of Practical life activities for your Montessori classroom

Matching Lids. 

Skills taught: Matching, Fine Motor, Executive functioning

DIRECTIONS: Use various sizes of boxes or bottles with lids and have students fit the lids to the appropriate containers.

Transfering items using tongs

Skills Taught: Executive functioning, Patience, Fine motor 

Directions: Fill a tray or a bowl with small items that can be picked up with tongs such as rubber balls.

Transfering items using a magnet

Skills Taught: Executive functioning, Patience, Fine motor, Magnetism

  Directions: Fill a tray or a bowl with small items that can be picked up with tongs such as rubber balls.

Buttoning / Zipping / tying

Skills Taught: Executive functioning, Patience, Fine motor, Self-care

Directions: Using dress frames, students will attempt to complete buttoning, zipping and tying tasks.

Pouring

Skills Taught: Executive functioning, Patience, Fine motor, Self-care, 

Directions: When students are brand new at pouring, you may want to consider offering something more solid. For example, pouring rice from one cup to another.

As students become more advance, they can pour water from one pitcher to another, from a pitcher to a glass or multiple glasses, and then eventually from a pitcher to glasses of varied size.

When is the right time to start Montessori?

Most Montessori classrooms accept children as young as 3. However, beginning at home is a great way to give your child a head start and build confident independent children. Starting Montessori Methods as a baby can be beneficial for development.

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