We all want our children to be well-rounded. While young children need to learn to read and write. It is also important to teach them the skills they will need to function in society the way we do. Practical life activities are one way of teaching your child these skills.
What Are Practical Life Activities?
Practical life activities are tasks that simulate the activities involved in everyday life. Typical Practical Life activities include dusting and cooking. They are normal everyday activities that many parents perform themselves, without thinking of inviting their little one’s participation.
Here is a list of some practical life activities:
- hand washing
- setting up the table
- putting clean laundry on the line
- fixing meals from fresh ingredients
- putting together a toy that is missing parts without using an instructions manual.
- flower arranging
- putting on a coat
- grace and courtesy lessons
While they seem simple tasks to most of us, they are very important in teaching your child such aspects as responsibility, respect, manners, and developing other skills.
Benefits of Practical Life Activities
There are many practical life activities a child can learn from. These are usually very inexpensive activities and can be all of your child’s. Doing these tasks regularly can help to increase your child’s learning capabilities and help to develop essential skills. If you let your child engage in them, these activities, in general, can help a child:
1. Develop Their Gross And Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are essentially the coordination of your fingers and hands. You need it to do just about anything, from writing your name to picking up a pencil to typing on the computer. Any activity that involves using your child’s three fingers can be a fine motor activity. For instance, activities like picking up clothes, putting on shoes, dressing, and lining up toys are all fine motor activities.
On the other hand, gross motor skills are essential for day-to-day living and often involve the use of the whole body, such as running and jumping. Practical life activities help to develop these skills while allowing them to enjoy themselves at the same time.
2. Gain Independence
Children with the ability to do things for themselves tend to be more confident, self-sufficient, and less reliant on others. Practical life activities give kids an opportunity to learn basic skills and show them what they’re capable of, whereas kids who are discouraged from taking charge can become dependent and reliant on others.
For instance, if children learned how to make their beds in the morning, they would feel more confident by demonstrating to their parents that they can do something on their own.
3. Develop The Ability To Concentrate
Sometimes there are tasks that require patience, focus, and concentration. Children need to learn how to focus on one thing and not get distracted. Practical life activities help them develop these skills by having them complete tasks that require attention and concentration, such as cutting with scissors or threading a needle.
4. Develop A Sense of Order
Another benefit of engaging in practical life activities for children is that it enables them to learn how to do things in the right order. This is because practical life activities involve following certain rules or patterns. For instance, a child assigned the task of setting the table knows that they must first set out the plates and then the forks, and only then can they set out the spoons and glasses.
5. Improve Social Skills
When your child is able to engage in practical life activities, this gives them an opportunity to interact, learn how to be social, and work out conflicts with others. They can learn to compromise, work together with others, and even be a leader. They will also learn how to communicate in a clear and polite way, which is necessary for social relations. All of these are essential tools for growing up and making friends as an adult.
For instance, when your child helps you make dinner, they will learn how to communicate with you, using words and gestures, and tell you which ingredients they want in their soup or what they want on their salad.
6. It Provides An Opportunity To Investigate And Questions
A unique advantage of practical life activities is that they allow children to ask questions and investigate things they might not have thought about while providing them with an opportunity to do the work themselves. This is a vital skill in order for them to form independent opinions.
There is something to be learned from activities: science (How the rays of sun and breeze of wind help dry the clothes), math (How many clothespins do I need if you use two per washcloth and have three wash clothes to hang up?).
Practical Life Curriculum In The Montessori Classroom
In the Montessori classroom, kids are initially drawn to the Practical Life area because these materials are most familiar to them. The activities of Practical Life have materials and materials normally encountered in everyday life, like sweeping, cleaning, pouring, dressing, and animal and plant care.
The Five Main Groups Of Practical Life
Practical life exercises fall into five categories: Preliminary Activities, Self Care, Care of Environment, Grace and Courtesy, and Control of Movement. Many are fundamental exercises that a young kid should master to live comfortably.
Practical Life activities help your little one develops concentration, coordination, a sense of independence, and a sense of order. Through Practical Life exercises, a young kid develops the self-confidence and attention vital for mastery of the other areas of the Montessori room. It is the teacher’s (guide’s) creativity that determines most of the program’s activities. The guide keeps in mind that the purpose of this work or activity is the coordination of the senses, muscles, and brain. The basic Practical Life activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Preliminary Activities:
Kids learn the basic movements of all societies, like:
- Sit and Stand on a Chair
- Pouring Grains
- Carrying a Mat
- Turning pages of a Montessori-Friendly Book
2. Self Care:
Engaging in activities connected with personal care involved in everyday experiences, like:
- Preparing a Snack
- Hand washing
- Cleaning Under Fingernails
- Using a napkin
- Polishing shoes
- Dressing frames to learn how to buckle, button, snap, tie bows, and lace shoes. These frames provide fine motor practice.
3. Care of Environment:
It is focused on teaching little ones how to interact with the environment in a way that exhibits respect and love.
- Washing a table
- Watering a plant
- Arranging flowers
- Cleaning a Spill
- Sweeping the floor
- Peeling and cutting vegetables and fruits
- Washing dishes
- Using Clothespins
- Polishing a Mirror
4. Grace and Courtesy:
The focus is on exposing the child to the manners and styles of behavior used by others. These must be absorbed from someone else and are learned in a short time.
- How to enter and leave a room
- Bow when greeting people
- Greet by saying “good morning” or “good evening,” depending on the time of day
- Open doors for other people
- Say “please” when asking for something
- Say “thank you” when given something or after being helped.
5. Control of Movement
It is focused on teaching kids to refine and coordinate control of their bodies through meaningful activities like:
- Walking on the line
- The silence game
Indeed there are lots of benefits of Practical Life activities for kids. Parents can take it as an advantage to let their kids engage in Practical Life activities. It is a great way of learning life skills, which will help them as they age and be very beneficial for their brain growth, motor coordination, and social skills.
Montessori preschools, like Montessori Academy, offer a variety of activities that are centered on the child’s development. We believe that children learn best through hands-on experiences, which is why we offer various Practical Life activities for kids in our preschool program. If you want to learn more about the Practical Life activities we offer at Montessori Academy, please call us at (323) 795-0200 for West Adams and (310) 215 -3388 for Culver City.