Introduction to Practical Life Essay
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* The purpose of Practical Life is to help the child gain control in the coordination of his movement, especially development of the hand`s coordination. “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence”. Maria Montessori- The Absorbent Mind. The fine muscles coordination is closed connected with the child`s conceptual development. As Dr. Montessori quoted it: “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself”. Practical Life activities help the child to gain independence and enables him to correlate his own physical, psychic and moral desires: * Physical desire to move and exercise growing limbs
* Psychic – to perfect the movements Moral – to become useful and helpful to the other.
The area of Practical Life aids the growth and development of the child’s intellect and concentration and will in turn also help the child develop an orderly way of thinking. In addition, Practical Life initiates in the child respect and love for any work, steps for creative art and helps the child to perform the activities of daily life with joy, skill, and grace through which he is attaining perfection. In an ideal situation, Practical Life would be located near the entrance to the classroom, as a link between home and school and a basis for the curriculum.
Beautiful area: color coded, beautiful flowers, paintings, vases… to draw child to Practical Life. Concentration: The child will be given uninterrupted work time to help him to develop the ability to concentrate and an opportunity to develop good work habits. He/she will learn to observe, organize, analyze, and problem solve. Concentration leads to normalization, enables the child to focus on work, and increases his attention span. The child who laboriously scrubs a table and attends to the details of their work is laying the foundation for calm effortless concentration levels for creative thought patterns.
Coordination: The child will be encouraged to develop and refine large and small muscle control. He/she will be given the opportunity to coordinate bodily movements. Eye-hand coordination will be a major goal in many activities. Attention to movement is not instinctive but planned voluntary actions. Repetition provides the child with opportunities for perfecting these movements. Independence; The children will develop independence through the mastery of themselves and their environment. The skills learned in Practical Life serve as preparation for success in all other areas of the classroom.
We all want to be masters of our own fate. The independent activities we adults take for granted are major hurdles in the child’s drive for independence. Order: The Montessori classroom provides the child with real and purposeful work. The environment helps the child to develop a sense of Order. The internal Order is absorbed and learned from the external order. Sequential steps in the work expand the child`s memory. Dr. Montessori observed that children need order at a specific sensitive period in their development. If not provided during this period the opportunity is foregone.
The child is systematically categorizing their world. Thus, a routine is very important as well as a place for everything and everything in its place. A sense of calm provides the child an opportunity for orderly self construction. A Positive Self-Concept and Self-Confidence: A child who can do for himself and help others has a good self-concept. The interest work, consistent classroom rules, and respectful teacher responses help the child develop inner discipline and self-control. Practical Life activities encourage the child to develop effective socialization skills.
He learns to contribute to the class community and to build friendships. On the other hand, the indirect aim of Practical Life is to develop the child`s fine motor movement, which involves the body, intellect and will. These indirect aims are, for example, eye-hand coordination, pincer grip, whole hand grasp, preparation for writing, exercise and co-ordinate body movement. Movement is so important for the young children; children need to move. “Through Movement, he acts upon his external environment and thus carries out his own personal mission in the world.
Movement is not only an impression of the ego but it is an indispensable factor in the development of consciousness, since it is the only real means which places the ego in a clearly defined relationship with external reality. ” Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, New York Ballantine Books, 1966. Dr. Montessori believed that the Prepared Environment was integral to a child`s development. The Montessori classroom is a child-centered community, designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration. Here, the child experiences the blend of freedom and discipline to act and develop along the lines of his own nner direction- physically, mentally and spiritually. In the Prepared Environment there is a variety of activity as well as a great deal of movement. No object is taught in isolation; the work is interdisciplinary and interactive.
The prepared environment has seven basic components: 1) Freedom: within limits, freedom to say “no thank you”, freedom to talk, to choose, of movement, to be alone, to be with friends. 2) Structure and order: Inherent in environment; fully arranged and proportioned for the child and divide into various areas such as Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, etc. in shelving: left to right, simple to complex, within the tray, etc. ; routine of day. 3) Reality and nature: plants, animals, natural containers. 4) Beauty and atmosphere: calm, beautiful filled with nature. 5) Montessori materials: basis of methodology. 6) Development of community life: part of a group, interacting with others in a peaceful manner, taking responsibility for themselves and each other, respecting each other`s differences, abilities, work and work space, and to treat each other with courtesy and dignity. ) Teacher: children can function independently, if just for a moment.
Montessori triad: teacher, child, prepared environment. The classroom needs to be prepared to meet the child`s needs: psychic space which should be clean, uncluttered; small nooks for privacy; must provide space for movement; teacher`s role is to create activities that will be self-teaching for the children (control of error: like using wood before glass); set up for success.
In a Prepared Environment, you would notice three main guiding ground rules: respect for self, for others and for the environment. All practical Life Activities are directed to these ground rules; therefore, the numbers of rules should be kept to a minimum, likewise, concise and easy to understand and presented in a positive manner. These ground rules are the criteria needed to maintain freedom for self as well as for others. They promote freedom through independence.
In a Montessori classroom, the Practical Life lessons provide to the three year olds the opportunity to spend most of the time to develop skills, concentration, order, and coordination. They prefer to help adults with their activities. They want to use real tools, such as brooms, sponges, brushes, screw drivers, cleaning rags, and other such items. Four years olds will refine their skills and five year olds will be to perfect all the skills learned. Older children are generally in favor for more elaborate activities such as cooking and cross stitching.