Parenting and Practical Life Activities

Lots of parents want to know how they can continue to use the Montessori educational philosophy outside the classroom, particularly at home. One of the easiest things to translate from the classroom to the home environment is the area of "Practical Life Activities." Depending on their age, children at Family Star may be peeling, slicing and serving food items like eggs, bananas and apples, juicing oranges, sweeping/mopping the floor, wiping down the tables, setting the table, washing dishes, polishing wood and metal, and much more. Many of these activities (and others) are incredibly easy to adapt for your home. Not only will your child(ren) get to continue their learning outside the classroom, but many of these activities can be done together as parent and child, and will help to set an example of helping around the house as a positive. One issue some parents have found with practical life activities at home is that frequently, children tend to take longer to perform the activities then an adult would, or that they may lose interest halfway through. Both of these are completely normal. Rather than getting frustrated at the slowness or half-completed jobs, celebrate the fact that your child is working towards gaining independence for the future, as well as skills that will serve them throughout their lives. Take a breath, and be patient, even though it might take twice as long to dry the dishes and put them away, or to fold a basket a laundry.

Ideas for home:

*Helping prepare for meals (washing lettuce/greens, grating cheese, cutting soft fruit/veggies/bread with non-sharp knives, stirring the soup, setting the table, etc)

*Cleaning up (dusting, sweeping, watering the plants, wiping the table, drying/putting away dishes, putting items away, folding clothes, etc)

*Helping in other ways (using a child size screw driver, helping pour water where needed, assisting in the garden, shoveling with a small child size shovel, feeding pets, etc).

But you don't have to take our word for it -- here is a part of an article written by the folks over at MariaMontessori.com

If you were to ask Montessori teachers which part of “curriculum” is the most important, my guess is most teachers would say Practical Life.  Practical Life is the foundation for everything that follows in a Montessori classroom.  It is also the one area of the classroom that does not require special materials and tools (other than adjustments for size).  The materials used are the easily found in your own home, because the activities are the very same ones we partake in every day in our homes– things like sweeping, washing dishes, folding laundry, combing our hair, getting dressed.  Children already want to do these things when they see adults doing them– they want to be part of our world, they want to feel grown up and important.  We then simply alter the materials and environment so it suits their smaller size, and let them go to work!

The genius of the Practical Life exercises is two-fold:

  1. You are teaching the child how to care for himself and his environment, thus giving him independence (doesn’t have to rely on an adult to tie his shoelaces or comb his hair) and a sense of pride at being able to do these things all by himself.
  2. The exercises are practice for the child’s fine and gross motor skills, allowing him to become better coordinated and learn how better to control and use his own body.  This is an indirect preparation for later, more complex exercises and activities that require fine motor control and concentration.

To read more of this article from MariaMontessori.com, click here!