Practical life in the Montessori Studio
“Although the exercises are skill oriented in the sense that they involve washing a table or shining one’s shoes, their purpose is not to master these tasks for their own sake. It is rather to aid the inner construction of discipline, organization, independence, and self-esteem through concentration on a precise and completed cycle of activity.”
-Maria Montessori: A Modern Approach
The practical life area of the Montessori studio is where the child develops self-discipline. Practical Life activities are activities taken from the daily life of the child, isolated, and presented in an appealing manner that allows the child to work independently and with repetition. Practical life activities help the child develop a sense of order, concentration, independence, recognize sequencing and prepares them for math and language. The activities are deliberately set up from top to bottom and left to write preparing the child for reading and writing. Each of the materials has a control of error allowing the child to correct their errors without the help of an adult. The activities are all real child size items often made of glass. This helps the child gain confidence and give them the power to make choices within his/her work that will lead to success or failure. Teaching children these activities and allowing them to participate in these everyday life activities gives them joy, builds self-confidence, and develops independence. They feel the respect adults have in them and their ability to take care of their environment. Finally, once a child achieves inner discipline, confidence and concentration as demonstrated through completing a full work cycle, the child is ready to move onto other materials within the Montessori classroom, such as the Sensorial materials.
The St. Kizito studio children have been busily working on these skills and caring for their environment. They have already put these skills into practice by washing the easel after each use, cleaning their tables, vacuuming and with their “Fun Friday” play dough project. They also know that the materials need to be disinfected and how to do it! They have taken great joy in caring for their environment which takes on new meaning during this pandemic.