GTMS Life > News October 5, 2022

PRIMARY ADM: A Highlight on Practical Life

This month we would like to focus on the Practical Life. We will describe what that means, what the purpose is, and how the children practice these activities both from the shelf and throughout their day. At the end of the blog, we will share some of our favorite books from this past month and […]

This month we would like to focus on the Practical Life. We will describe what that means, what the purpose is, and how the children practice these activities both from the shelf and throughout their day. At the end of the blog, we will share some of our favorite books from this past month and list upcoming events.

What is Practical Life?

In a Montessori environment, we call the work that involves practicing basic or quotidian tasks “Practical Life”. This includes cleaning, food preparation, sewing, transferring- i.e. pouring or spooning, using tools, dressing one’s self, etc. We also include lessons of Grace and Courtesy in Practical Life because actions like how to push in your chair or introduce yourself to someone new are practical and used everyday. Please take a look at these photos of our Practical Life shelves.

Practical Life on the shelf

The exercises of Practical Life are the activities that initiate a child to the Montessori environment. They are among the first presentations given to children as they first join a Primary class. These are beautiful materials that catch the eye and interest of the children because they are based on daily activities but with a most tantalizing twist; the beautiful materials are perfectly and purposefully created for them. They may have seen the adults in their life sweeping a floor a thousand times but may have never seen a broom just their size. Or perhaps they have watched adults around them wash dishes but have never been able to reach the sink. The materials they encounter in our environment are almost exactly the same as the objects they see at home with one striking difference, their perfectly proportioned size. This familiarity helps orient the child to the environment. The materials are comforting and lend our classroom a homey feeling. The activities also serve to foster independence, facilitate coordinated movements, increase concentration, aid in the development of the will, and support adaptation and orientation to Primary and beyond.

Working with the Practical Life materials helps your child foster independence. In a Montessori community, we refer to a child’s ability to do things for themselves as ‘functional independence’. Many of these activities are steps towards functional independence both at school and at home. Practical Life activities serve to provide the children with real-life skills they can apply everyday. As your child gains functional independence, they are less dependent on adults. This is a wonderful thing for both the child and the adult! It can be hard for us to remember now what it felt like to be so helpless as a child- the world indeed must have seemed an overwhelming place. But the new skills they learn through their work with the materials of Practical Life make the world easier to navigate and bring your child that much closer to the experiences of life. This functional independence paves the way for intellectual independence. Through functional independence, the child gains confidence, with confidence the child has the means to take calculated risks. These risks are opportunities for learning and development. In our classroom these risks can look like novel explorations with materials, willingness to try new things, openness to welcome a new student or make a new friend, etc. Your child becomes a master of their environment through the exercises of practical life while simultaneously becoming master of themself.

Practical Life all day!

The children engage in Practical Life even when they are not working directly with the materials from the shelf. In our environment, the children are responsible for helping to keep the classroom clean, safe, and comfortable for everyone. They clean up their own messes and help their friends clean up messes as well. They push in their own chairs, fold our laundry, sharpen our pencils, prepare our snacks, and prepare our space for meals. Not only do these everyday acts help the children practice the skills they learned while working with our Practical Life materials, they help the children develop ownership over our environment and our community. Our space belongs to the children and they feel responsible for their space. Below you will find some photos of children looking after our environment and community.

Books We Enjoyed This Month

Each month we will include a selection of some of the books we have been reading at circle or that have been available in the library.

Upcoming Events

  • 10/7 & 10/10- NO SCHOOL: All GTMS is closed
  • 10/12 4:30-6:30- Parent Ed Workshop: A Day in the Life of a Greene Towne Child with a focus on Social Emotional Development. This will be held at 2133 Arch St.
  • 10/22 10:00-12:00- Fall Walk at the Rail Park
  • 10/24 8:15-9:15- PADM Parent Coffee. This will be held at 2133 Arch St and is available to attend on Zoom.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns!

Best,

Ms. Maggie, Ms. Amanda, Ms. J, Ms. Ally, Ms. Allison, and Ms. Shawn

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