In Montessori education, each part of the classroom and educational experience is intentionally designed. Even the youngest students in a Montessori program have a classroom and curriculum that are intentionally designed. One of the unique elements of the Montessori classroom for the youngest students is the focus on practical life activities.
What are practical life activities
Practical life activities can be separated into a number of categories. Two of the main categories that you will find are regularly incorporated in the Montessori classroom include care for self and care for the environment. Students are provided with opportunities to independently complete activities that are involved in caring for themselves and the environment around them. Another important category of practical life activities involves the way students interact with others and is typically categorized as grace and courtesy.
Why practical life activities are important
Practical life activities are important because they foster independence and help students learn how to do tasks that will be a part of their lives going forward. For example, in the category of ‘care for self’, students may learn how to put on and remove their own coat. This may seem like a small task to you, as an adult, but it is a skill that small children must practice in order to master. Being given responsibility for completing practical life activities can improve self-esteem, foster independence, and inspire a drive to continue improving. A focus on practical life activities can provide students with a firm foundation as they progress through the Montessori program.
Examples of practical life activities
Practical life activities do not have to be complicated. Many of the self-care tasks that you take for granted each day are practical life activities that children must learn. Tasks such as washing hands and getting in and out of a coat are examples of practical life activities in the ‘care of self’ category. In the care of the environment category, students engage in activities like cleaning, organizing, and setting the table. Activities like these get children involved in grown-up tasks and allow them to feel like they are contributing. This feeling is one that is fostered in the Montessori classroom and will be extremely valuable as your child grows. Practical life activities also provide opportunities for students to develop grace and courtesy by interacting and collaborating with the teacher and other students.
All of the practical life activities help to prepare students for life inside of and beyond the classroom. Many parents are surprised by how much even young children can do for themselves and others when provided with the opportunity. The design of the Montessori classroom creates opportunities for students to practice care for themselves, care for the environment, and grace and courtesy – all of which are important for success in life.