Child development is a beautiful, yet very complicated, process. You want to give your little one every opportunity to succeed, but where do you begin? Believe it or not, this educational journey can begin right in your own home with Montessori practical life activities.
Incorporating practical life activities into your child’s daily routine can give them the chance to learn how to achieve independence, gain confidence when trying new things, and provide them with the mental tools to tackle academic subjects. Practical life is highly adaptable, too – children of all ages can learn practical life skills, from toddlers to elementary school students. If you’re interested in how this method works and how you and your child can practice it at home, then let’s get started!
What is the practical life Montessori method?
Though they may seem like mundane tasks to an adult, practical life activities are both fun and purposeful to our children. Developmentally, they centralize your child’s innate curiosity about the rest of the world and their desire for independence, while physically, they can help your child grasp motor skills and coordination. Giving your child an opportunity to involve themselves and be helpful offers more potential benefits than simply leaving them to play while the adults handle everything.
Visual examples are a central tenet of the practical life method. Give your child a stool to stand on so they can watch you cook dinner. Perform an activity such as sweeping the floor where your child can see and encourage them to try it themselves. You can nurture your child’s natural curiosity by simply letting them watch you. This could, in turn, help them perform the task themselves, further building on their sense of autonomy.
As your child grows, so can their practical life education. Practical life activities can vary widely in complexity depending on your child’s age, from allowing your 18-month-old to help dress themselves to letting your elementary schooler prepare and bake desserts. Presenting your child with new challenges at each stage of their development can present them with new ways of interacting with the world.
Kinds of practical life activities
A practical life curriculum typically covers four developmental topics, roughly arranged from simplest to most complex:
Basic motor functions
These activities focus on developing and refining simple physical movements and interacting with tools. As your child shows improvements in coordination you can introduce more complex activities and build on the foundational skills they master as they grow.
- Allow your child to pour their own drink from a plastic pitcher.
- Give your child a scoop, a container full of rice, and an empty container, and tell them to transfer the contents from one container to another.
- Give your child a series of pots and lids and ask them to match the right lid with the right pot.
- Provide your child with keys and locks to match together.
- Observe your child driving a screw with a screwdriver.
- Give your child papercraft projects utilizing scissors and glue
- Provide your child a coloring book and ask them to draw within the lines.
- Ask your child to walk across a balance beam.
- Let your child practice being gentle when petting animals.
Care of self
These activities give your child the opportunity to act independently and develop a sense of responsibility for their well-being.
- Allow your toddler to put on their own jacket or pull up their own pants.
- Observe your toddler washing their own hands, offering guidance on how to do it most effectively.
- Allow your elementary schooler to pack their own lunch for school.
- If you’ll be travelling with your child, allow them to pack their own bag for the trip.
- Let your child make themselves a snack when they’re hungry.
- Let your child drink from a cup.
- Instruct your child on how to brush their teeth effectively.
- Let your child blow their nose.
Care of environment
These activities encourage your child to care for their environment. This could not only involve tidying and cleaning up but also appreciating their space.
- If your child makes a mess, ask them to clean it up themselves using the appropriate tools, such as a broom or a towel
- Ask your child to set the table before dinner.
- Give your child the responsibility of caring for a plant.
- Involve your child in washing the dishes after dinner.
- Let your child put their clean clothes away.
- Ask your child to help you take the trash or recycling outside.
These activities can help your child develop a sense of social decorum and learn how to interact politely with others.
- Instruct your child to say “please” and “thank you” when they want something.
- Prompt your child to apologize when they’ve done something wrong.
- Encourage your child to be honest with others, even if they’re afraid they’ll get in trouble.
- Let them introduce themselves by name.
- Inform your child that they must wait their turn when in a line.
- Ask your child to speak softly when inside.
- When using someone else’s things, instruct your child to treat their belongings with respect.
Provide your child lots of guidance and support. Be patient with them as they practice each new skill. Let them take the lead and show you what they are ready for. Celebrate their success and encourage them through the challenges.
Why practical life?
Practical life is a methodology that’s applicable to all ages, even infants, and you can adapt your child’s at-home education based on their individual learning abilities and interests. These skills allow children to depend on themselves and develop self-discipline, which can help them develop into an independent child.
Practical life coaches kids to excel at more than just school. It focuses on concepts they instinctually want to (and eventually need to) learn, and learning these basic concepts can give them the necessary tools to understand academic disciplines like math, reading, language, and problem-solving.
Practical life can help your child develop their ability to focus, follow sequential steps, make informed choices, finish tasks, and correct mistakes. Encouraging your child to persist even when they don’t get it right the first time can teach them to be persistent in achieving their goals.
When the time is right for your child, their Montessori education can continue into the classroom as well! At IKM, we’re committed to helping your child develop and giving them the structure they need to achieve their intellectual potential.
For more information on what we offer, please contact us today!