What is my Child really learning through Exercises of Practical Life?

“If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities, which they can perform themselves. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down the stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.”  Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

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I find it fascinating how children have an innate desire to be a part of a community; to belong. They want to be involved in purposeful work, and to keep their tiny communities clean and orderly. It’s not necessarily something we have to teach, but something that can come about by providing the right tools, and making sure these tools are easily accessible. We model for the child how to carry about one’s body, how to handle fragile things, that everything we do has certain steps that have to be followed, and that their are effects or consequences for everything that we do. In Montessori, we teach the child skills that can be used in “real life”, beyond the classroom. These lessons are done so through their persistent participation in exercises of “practical life”.DSC_0265There’s much to be said about the Exercises in Practical Life, and how beneficial and extremely crucial they are to the child’s overall development. It’s through practical life works that the child learns concentration, focus, scope and sequence, pre-writing skills (cleaning a table with a bar of soap from left to right in circular motions), fine and gross motor development, small and large muscle development, they develop a sense of order, and generally learn to take pride in their work. They learn to be independent young adults, free to think critically and problem solve. Continue reading

Broom Experiment

“The Prepared Environment intrinsically fosters creativity, the foundation for all human progress. Montessori cautions that the power of imagination will develop from whatever the child finds in the environment. It is creative people who will continue to advance civilization. For this reason educators must take care that the precious commodity of creativity is maximized rather than wasted; art, music, literature, poetry, invention, medicine and science are the products of creativity.” ~ Maria Montessori

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Preparing Montessori Children for the 21st Century

(True story from one of our toddler community members, now enrolled in our Primary Program)

Hi there, I’m a little over two years old. I am a student in the Strawberry Community. One evening, while waiting for mom, I decided to assist my teacher with cleaning. After sweeping for a short time, to my surprise, for reasons I’m not sure, I had an urge to try something different.

  • Critical Thinking – Can the broom stand alone, free from my hands?
  • Adaptability – I move and reposition the broom to various locations in the room, does this help?
  • Analyzing & Assessing – Is it possible? Over and over again, I tilt, lift and shift while slowly pulling my arm away
  • Initiative- I trust myself – I have the confidence to try something new, I am in a community that respects and empowers
  • Curiosity & Imagination – I am inquisitive, I want to know, is it possible?

The broom was his “work”. He is in an environment that fosters creativity and independence; he is left alone to analyze and assess as he formulates a plan. He was able to work uninterrupted; concentrating on the task at hand. He remained focused well over 20 minutes showing no signs of frustration or fatigue, he was engaged in “purposeful work”. He was intrinsically motivated, the absence of clapping and cheering allowed him to remain focused. Despite the fact that the broom continued to fall, perseverance triumphed.

This work was assisting in the development of his coordinated movement, eye-and-hand coordination and concentration, he was forming his own ideas relevant to human life, the ability to think and reason coherently and logically.

-Written by Ms. Tami, Owner/Head of School, Healthy Beginnings Montessori House

A Little Morning Mirror Polishing

 

This morning, we got a lesson on mirror polishing. Through this work, we’re given the fundamental principles for cleaning other objects in our environment. Our concentration is developed through order and sequence as we learn each step of this careful process.

“He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” – Dr. Maria Montessori, the Absorbent Mind

 

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