The classrooms at our school are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of the young child. Maria Montessori called these needs 'Human Tendencies.' Some of the human tendencies that are met in our community include order, consistency, routine, movement, communication, and caring for the self and the environment - also known as Practical Life.
Practical Life is the area of our curriculum that teaches life skills. Human beings of all ages have an innate desire to communicate with others, the challenge themselves, to do important work, and to contribute to world around them. When children are allowed to do the 'real work' of washing dishes, scrubbing a table, preparing food, etc., many wonderful things are taking place on a developmental level.
First, the child begins to master self-control. If a dish gets dropped and broken, no one has to tell the child 'you did that incorrectly', rather, he learns through natural consequences that he must use more controlled movements.
If a child is a child is arranging flowers and makes a beautiful arrangement, the success is clearly apparent to him. No adult offering stickers and rewards can take the place of a feeling of satisfaction in a job well done.
This leads to healthy self image and self esteem that is developed from true accomplishments. Allowing the child to participate in the activities going on around him demonstrates a tremendous act of respect and confidence.
When the child is older and doing more academic work, she will draw from her earlier success in the Practical Life area. Not only does Practical Life allow the child to experience completing a task and the subsequent feeling that goes along with real accomplishment - it also teaches the child to think in an orderly and logical manner, paving the way for reading and writing in the Primary class and beyond.
Children have always shown us their interest in Practical Life by pretending to cook and clean, take care of a doll, talk on the phone, etc. But when given the chance, they would much rather be doing the work of the community, instead of pretending.
Practical Life work is the cornerstone of all the work in the Montessori classroom. First it serves as a bridge between work and home, or from the toddler class to the primary class. Later, it becomes a place where focus, hand strength, logical thought, precise movements, and fortitude lay the ground work for academic success.
Since birth, every child has been absorbing thousands of impressions from his environment. The Sensorial Area in the Montessori classroom helps the child refine these impressions and bring order them. The material pictured above is called the 'Constructive Triangles' and it gives the child the experience of making linear shapes from triangles.
It is so exciting for the child to start to recognize these shapes in the greater environment! The children start to recognize rectangles, squares, circles, and much more!
This is the beginning of exploration and discovery - as the child becomes more conscious of shape, dimension, color, sound, and depth, she can explore with greater joy, discovery, and focus!
The photographs in this post are courtesy of Meg Porter at Meg Porter Photography.
We are an AMI accredited Montessori school growing daily in spirit & intellect!