“These exercises are intended not to produce a ‘model’ child with artificial behaviour, but to give the child an opportunity to be part of social life.”
All activities are introduced to the child by the teacher. The teacher gives the child a presentation of the correct usage of the material. These are not group lessons. All presentations are on a one on one basis, like mentioned before, since isolation is an integral principal of Montessori Practical Life Exercises.
“A lesson will approach closer to perfection, in proportion to the number of words which we contrive to leave out. Special care must be devoted in the preparation of a lesson, to counting and choosing the words which will have to be spoken.”
(The Discovery of the Child, Chapter 8, Page 139)
Practical life exercises do not end in the classroom. Activities are first learnt in the classroom and then the child applies them at home. There are variations of all the activities taught, like:
· Rolling and unrolling a mat- the child can roll and unroll a napkin, handkerchief, paper for origami etc.
· Carrying a chair- the child can carry a small stool, his tricycle, cardboard boxes etc.
· Spooning- the child can spoon different types of pulses.
· Dry pouring- the child can pour cereals, rice, pulses etc.
· Wet pouring- the child can pour his milk, serve others.
· Transferring- pick up beads and other objects with tweezers, tongs, chopsticks and can help out with the cleaning around the house by sponging up spilled liquid.
· Pegging- the child can work with hair clips, clipboards, paper punches etc.
· Folding and unfolding- the child can fold napkins, handkerchiefs, his own clothes etc.
· Sweeping- the child can help around the house.
· Screwing and unscrewing a bottle- the child can open jars, open toothpaste tubes, door knobs, faucets, turn fan regulators, etc.
· Locks and keys- the child will be able to lock and unlock his own cupboard, can lock and unlock different types of locks.
· Lacing- the child can lace his own shoes, can make jewellery, garlanding etc.
· Polishing- the child can clean the mirrors at home, clean the windows or any glass surface.
· Cutting- the child can peel apples/ potatoes, cut bananas and cucumbers, etc.
· Dressing frames- the child can zip his bag, suitcases, can put on his velcro shoes, open and close the buttons of his shirt himself, can tie his own laces or make ribbon bows, etc.
As we have seen, the Montessori Method of education gets a child to perform Practical Life Exercises on an almost daily basis, helping him to develop a variety of skills and learn essential skills needed in all walks of life. These exercises can be divided into four categories, starting with the very basic development of motor skills, where limb-eye-body coordination is brought up to desired levels, progressing to caring for oneself, which include activities designed to make the child conscious of how he looks, both to himself and the rest of the world. Hygiene is associated with this particular facet. As the child graduates through these two phases, care of his surroundings follow, with his learning to observe all that is around him and desiring that they be in a particular order or place. Social graces and courtesy are the next aspects of life that he sees and learns, thereby acquiring a sense of social awareness, pride and dignity. All these are not taught formally by a teacher. Some come to the child at home or elsewhere, where he progresses a step beyond what he saw, practised and learned in class.