Practical Life Exercises are the foundation of the Montessori environment; provide a sane and wholesome range of activities which allow the children to develop control and coordination of movement, awareness of their environment, orderly thought patterns, independent work habits, responsibility, and many other characteristics which can only be attained through spontaneous, purposeful work
These words reveal the child’s inner needs: “Help me to do it myself.”
Transferring Exercises in the Practical Life Area provide interesting opportunities for the child to build eye-hand coordination, develop focus and attention, refine motor skills and hone muscular controlThis procedure promotes what Montessori calls “integration of the mind and the body” which is the primary foundation for the child’s “development of will”. The child discovers that he can conduct his bodily movements through the direction of his will. When translated to a life skill, this gives the child confidence in facing challenging activities realizing that he can practically accomplish any task as long as he wills it. The exercises in Practical Life are the very heart of Montessori education. As young children wash tables, pour liquids, polish silver, sweep and dust, they are developing the inner aptitudes of calmness, order, concentration, coordination, and fine motor skills. At the same time, through the process of learning to meet their own needs, learning to take care of the classroom environment, and through the experience of helping others, children in Montessori programs begin to develop independence, self-confidence, and self-respect Children develop coordinated movement through their activities in the world. The Montessori classroom activities allow children opportunities to perfect their movements and become coordinated.
An aspect of movement is “walking on the line”. Initially just walking on the line, children carry objects such as a basket, flag or bell. As a child learns to control their body movements, they become more confident. It is an amazing sight to see a young child carrying a bell walking around the line without the bell ringing.To assist the child in the development of their whole body with graceful movements, the Directress demonstrates walking heel to toe on the line. Initially, the Directress shows the children how to walk with care and invites children to do the same. As children are walking on the line, watching where they are walking, they are learning how to balance and carry their body. A simple march or rhythm can be added so the children move with the beat
Practical life work provides practice in eye-hand coordination, the control of large and small muscles, the ability to walk and to carry objects with control, and to behave with knowledge of good manners. These are the activities that bring the child’s attention to his own progress and development, and that open up a world of important work.Individual Dressing Frames present a variety of activities which introduce self-help skills – buttoning, lacing, zipping, etc. While doing these exercises, children also hone fine finger motor skills, understand the importance of sequence in tasks, as well as enhance focus and concentration
Pouring exercises offer the child the means of caring for himself and his environment. As well, they build confidence in the young child and allow his independent nature to flourish.
When presented to the children, they are shown how to do pouring without spilling the contents of the vessels. Mind-hand coordination is developed as the children exert their efforts to pour in the same manner presented by the teacher. Thus, all their focus and attention, their entire body concentrates to complete “pour without spilling”.