“Children work for the sake of process; adults work to achieve an end result.”
The Montessori Method of education practises activities a child encounters almost daily, keeping in mind that these activities play a major role in the development of the child. For example, carrying a chair, using cloth pegs, sweeping, washing hands, etc. Such activities are termed Practical Life Exercises. These exercises provide the child purposeful work and assist him with his physical, emotional, social, mental and cognitive development.
Montessori Practical Life Materials are set apart from materials of other institutes due to certain principals like, each material has a definite purpose and is meaningful to the child, the materials follow a simple to complex order, the materials are designed to prepare the child indirectly for future learning, the materials are designed for auto-learning, the control of error lies within the material which guides the child in the use and allows him to recognise his own mistakes, all the material is child sized and reality based, all the material is one of a kind which teaches the child to wait for his turn, all materials are within reach of the children and all materials are always clean and complete.
Practical life exercises are designed to teach children crucial skills required through all walks of life. They are of immense importance as:
- They enhance the child’s control over his movements. As the child grows, he learns to walk faster, turn to either side, clap, etc.
- They develop the child’s gross and fine motor skills, in that he learns to run- albeit slowly, walk on his toes, walk one-legged while maintaining his balance, carry light-weight items, etc. This also improves the child's posture.
- · They help young children develop intelligence, by experimenting with all types of solutions till they reach the desired one. During this process, the child indirectly learns other skills through simple observation and remembering what had happened, at what time and under which circumstances.
- · They instil responsibility, in that the child makes mistakes during the learning process which could have adverse effects and thus gets to know how and when to avoid repetition.
- · They increase self knowledge. The child’s mental faculties hold immense potential and each experience or event is part of the learning curve associated with the growing process.
- · They develop the child's concentration, as a natural follow-on effect to the memories stored in the mind of cause and effect, development of higher skills like the commonly spoken language.
- · They develop the child’s observation power. As he trudges through the portals of self-education, knowledge, skills and concentration, he starts to absorb all that he sees. Having done that, he automatically looks further afield in his quest for knowledge.
- · They help establish order. As the child learns more every passing moment, he observes and concentrates, the first step towards discipline. With discipline comes the sense of the order of things as they exist or occur in the universe.
- · They help him appreciate and understand the beauty and limits of his surroundings, the environment with which he comes into contact with and which he now observes, remembers and stores in the deep recesses of his mind.
- · They aid in the child in developing a good self image due to build up of knowledge, order and confidence. This helps the child to finally feel independent to some degree.
- · They help prepare the child for future learning. As he assimilates more and more, his inquisitive built of mind leads him onto fresher fields, so that he can exercise his acquired skills for optimum benefit. For example, he improves his mathematical skills like division, estimation, logical thinking, etc.