Montessori Practical Life : Fostering Independence and Confidence in Children
Have you ever been curious about what makes the Montessori Method different from traditional education? In addition to teaching children academic skills, the Montessori classroom places a strong emphasis on practical life activities. So, what exactly is Practical Life Montessori?
Practical Life Exercises
Practical Life exercises help children develop independence and foster a sense of responsibility through practical life activities. These activities can include things like spooning, tweezing, pouring, sweeping, buttoning, and greeting. A child takes delight in activities that we adults perceive as work or part of our daily routine. When a child observes these activities in "real" life, they are eager to imitate them over and over again. Practical Life activities are usually introduced to the child initially. These tasks are straightforward and specific, involving activities that the child has already observed at home and now wishes to imitate.
Learning to be independent is crucial for children as it helps them develop a sense of self-confidence and self-reliance. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, "Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting of one's powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil." By learning how to do things on their own, such as dressing themselves, preparing their own snacks, and completing tasks, children gain a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. This sets them on a path towards becoming self-sufficient adults who can take care of themselves and contribute to society.
We also support children to be independent through the Prepared Environment. This means that the classroom is designed to be a place where children can learn independently, without the need for constant adult supervision. The materials in the classroom are carefully chosen to be developmentally appropriate and to encourage exploration and discovery. For example, a child is doing a pitcher of water and a set of cups to pour into. The pitcher and cups are designed to be easy to handle and pour from, allowing the child to practice pouring water from one container to another. Through this process, the child develops hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and concentration. They learn about concepts such as volume and measurement, as well as patience and control. This practical life activity fosters independence and self-confidence in the child as they master the skill of pouring.
Freedom of choices
We also believe in giving children the freedom to choose their own activities. This means that children are allowed to work on the activities that interest them, rather than being forced to follow a predetermined curriculum. This encourages children to take ownership of their own learning and to develop a love of learning that will last a lifetime.
Control of error
The Practical Life materials also incorporate a "control of error" feature, which helps children to self-correct and learn independently once they have been introduced to a particular task. For example, if a child is pouring water too quickly or too slowly, the water will spill or not fill the cup properly. Through trial and error, the child learns to adjust his pouring speed and achieve the desired outcome of filling the cup without spilling. This control of error allows the child to independently self-correct their pouring technique and develop their sense of coordination and precision. This gives them control over their education and the pace of their development. They have the ability to make choices within their work that can lead to both success and failure. Through following their instincts and pursuing their interests, they will quickly learn and grow.
Practical Life is not simply about learning how to sweep or to button a shirt but it is much bigger than those goals. It is about preparing a child for life and about developing far less tangible skills, such as self-esteem, completing a cycle of work, self-sufficiency, problem-solving, confidence, and independence, all qualities that will help in life but also later in academic work.