"As soon as children find something that interests them they lose their instability and learn to concentrate."
— Maria Montessori
Why did Montessori incorporate Practical Life into her classroom? Montessori believed that if a child was to concentrate, be independent, and part of society they needed to help with real life work by taking care of self and Environment.
In a practical life area of a Montessori classroom at any point in the day you might see children pouring beans, sweeping the floor, scrubbing a table, washing hands, preparing snack, feeding pets, watering plants, and using the bathroom or changing clothing. All of these works take multiple steps to complete and those steps help the child refine movement, understand order, and concentrate.
When doing a work in practical life there is an ordered way the work is done. For example if a child is doing our hand washing work he would get water, pour it into bowl, get hands wet, get soap and rub soap on hands, put soap back and rinse hands, dump water into sink, take everything off dish stand, use sponge and bucket to clean up any spilled water, pour water into sink, and put everything back on hand washing stand. Many children at first need lots of guidance to do this work and do it quickly. Then later in the year you might see a child with this work lathering the soap getting each finger clean for 15-20 minuets.
Practical life at home
How can your child be more independent and practice these practical life skills at home?
Practical life for infants is very basic and is primarily allowing them to take care of self.
- Being able to move and get in and out of low chairs at a low table by themselves when eating. Also when eating drinking from a cup and using utensils to feed self. This will be messy at first, but the more practice the less messy it will be.
- Around 15 months and older they can start putting dirty dishes, dirty clothes and toys away in a bin. They will need a lot of help at first. They can also start cleaning up spills, which again they will need help at first.
2-3 year old
- A child who is closer to two will be able to help carry small load of laundry, set the table, and clear the table.
- Child can dress and undress and use the toilet
- Child can help with household chores such as laundry, loading and unloading dishwasher, washing dishes in sink, cooking, and many more things.
Here is a link to a video clip that shows two 22-month-old twins at home making scrambled eggs with a little help from mom.