“Montessori recognized that meaningful learning requires a willingness to follow each successive step in the process of acquiring new information. It is essential to repeat each one of those steps as many times as necessary to know and to understand the specific learning involved on the deepest level. To complete such a cycle of activity requires a ‘depth of engagement’ on the child’s part. It is just this engagement of the whole personality that is necessary to all meaningful learning throughout life.” – Paula Polk Lillard, Montessori from the Start
Children want to participate in work that is meaningful, challenging, and contributes to their classroom environment as well as society. They need to be introduced to work that is “real”. Exercises in practical life, such as “care of environment” meet all of these needs. “Care of environment” includes anything from plant care (polishing/watering), flower arranging, sweeping, dusting, washing windows, washing clothing, and so much more. All of these can be done in the classroom as well as in the home. Through this, the child develops a healthy self-image and learns self-control. They become deeply engaged in the environment by completing each careful step; the final reward being a clean and well organized environment.
Engaging the child to the environment promotes concentration, an appreciation for his community as well as others around him, and a desire to maintain a prepared classroom at all times. These skills can carry on much into the latter part of their lives, making them self-sufficient, productive young adults.
“In learning to do such seemingly mundane activities as dressing, dusting, sweeping, preparing and serving food, and fixing or building, work that the child sees going on around her all day long that she learns to use her body and mind for a purpose, to concentrate, to complete cycles of activity, to finish what she started, and most importantly, to contribute to the important work of the family, the social group. Allowing the child to participate in the daily work he sees going on around him is an act of great respect for, and confidence in, the child. It helps him to feel important to himself and to those around him. He is needed.” – michaelolaf.net
“Care of Environment” & “Practical Life” exercises:
– Plant Polishing
– Window Washing
– Dish Washing
– Cloth Washing
– Flower Arranging
– Fruit/Vegetable Washing
– Laundry (Sorting/Putting Away)
– Montessori from the Start, Paula Polk Lillard
– Montessori Philosophy and Practice, Family Life: Care of Self, Others, and the Environment, http://www.michaelolaf.net/1JC13FE.html