Practical Life is an important first step when it comes to introducing Montessori to your children. Whether you’re simply practicing Montessori at home or beginning your journey with Montessori homeschooling, the importance of Practical Life cannot be over-stressed.
Montessori Practical Life Activities actually set the foundation for a functional homeschool experience. Practical Life is also essential to implementing a successful Montessori curriculum because this first step leads to the development of foundational life skills critical for your child’s success and happiness.
What is Practical Life in Montessori?
Practical Life covers four main areas of development: homeschooling skills, care of self, control of movement, and care of environment. Practical Life activities teach children to actively participate in things such as watering the garden, food preparation, washing dishes, dressing themselves, and other daily life activities.
Basically, Practical Life involves the activities of everyday life that might seem tedious or routine to you, but are completely new and novel to your child.
While your child observes these Practical Life activities in their environment, they’ll gain knowledge through this real life experience of how to navigate and develop life skills in a meaningful way.
What is the point of Practical Life?
Practical Life exercises help to give your child a sense of belonging as they participate in the daily routines with you. Through practical life the child learns about his culture and all about what it is to be human. Practical Life activities are truly an essential part of any Montessori environment.
Learning Life Skills is Essential
Children who learn Practical Life skills like cooking and cleaning from an early age begin mastering them quickly. This process makes them feel responsible for their environment and helps them realize the importance of keeping it orderly. Highlighting the importance of practical life also gives your child a sense of individuality and choice, even when there might not actually be one.
For example, involving your child in the cooking gives them a connection to the food that they wouldn’t otherwise have and this in turn can reduce the likelihood of them being picky come dinner time.
The Importance of Practical Life in Montessori Homeschooling
Through the Multisori Practical Life Curriculum, your child will gain a better awareness of both their home and their culture. Additionally, our Montessori Practical Life Curriculum provides opportunity for language development by focusing the child’s time on vocabulary acquisition.
As the child observes their natural surroundings, Montessori education encourages respect and care of the environment. Independence, self-reliance, competence, and cultivation of concentration are just a few of the benefits of integrating practical life into your Montessori homeschool's primary curriculum.
Practical Life is the place to begin for very young children or any child new to a Montessori environment. This is because it is designed to quiet and focus the child's mind in the home environment, thus setting the stage for a functional homeschool experience.
What is a Practical Life activity?
Practical life activities in the Montessori primary curriculum are purposeful and thoughtfully sequenced in a way that develops coordination, motor control, and focus. By following the traditional Montessori scope and sequence (as opposed to randomly piecing together practical life activities without an overarching plan) is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your child benefits as much as possible from this critical part of the Montessori program.
Starting Practical Life
You’ll definitely want to keep in mind that they way you approach your everyday activities is going to be mimicked by your child. While I know it can be difficult to see chores as anything but, if you can approach these with a positive mindset, your child will as well. Initially these Practical Life activities are introduced to your child naturally, as they are done to the child and around the child (think dressing them or doing dishes while they’re in a carrier).
By involving your child in these activities - even indirectly - it allows them to feel important and a part of the everyday ongoings. It shows your child that someone cares about them enough to involve them in these activities. Consequently your child then learns to trust that they (and their environment) will be cared for. This early integration if the child into your normal routine is an easy way to begin Montessori from birth.
Showing Readiness for Practical Life
When your child begins to walk and their hands are then free to actively participate in the foundational pieces of Practical Life, it’s fair to assume they’re showing readiness for the next stage of Practical Life. While normally you are the one doing the observing, never forget that they too are always watching. Before they began their independent movements through walking, they were observing and absorbing.
Now your child can take those observations and begin to play an active role in their everyday routines. This is the precursor to readiness for the Montessori primary Practical Life curriculum.
Examples of Practical Life Activities
Some examples of Practical Life Activities include:
- Setting the table
- Doing the dishes
- Food prep
- Watering the garden
- Washing the windows
- Tying shoes
- Dressing oneself
- Matching tupperware lids to containers or bottles to lids
- Practice using a funnel or pouring
- Making the beds
This is an example of what it looks like when I got my daughter's M3 routine cards all set up!
It’s super simple and it helped her a lot. Honestly, the hardest part was finding the perfect container. I ended up going with this $2 Walmart solution that worked out well:
As your child works through this, they won’t even realize they’re sequencing, learning personal accountability and learning to recognize and recall the days of the week!
Practical Life Homeschool Curriculum
Moving beyond Practical Life for those doing Montessori at home, it would be a disservice not to move further into the importance of Practical Life as it relates to Montessori homeschooling.
M3 by Multisori's Practical Life curriculum provides opportunities for children ages 2-6 to learn practical life skills that also allow for the development of both fine and gross motor skills. Our Practical Life curriculum also teaches your child independence and helps them build confidence in their every day life.
If you’re considering Montessori homeschooling - or simply want to start Montessori at home - our Practical Life curriculum is where to start!