"Why is my child spending all their time at school cleaning, spooning, and pouring?"
One monumental section of the Montessori Curriculum is called Practical Life. Practical Life is filled with lessons that give the child exposure, practice, and the opportunity to master simple everyday practical life skills. Some examples are: cleaning a spill, spooning, pouring, food prep, and learning to button.
For many adults, it is confusing why it may be important for children to spend hours, days, and years practicing these lessons over and over. The first indication that this work is vital to the children’s development is how much children starting at 18 months are drawn to this area of the classroom and their ability to focus for long periods of time. These lessons can help a child lengthen their ability to concentrate while also teaching independence and attention to detail.
Many parents want their children to clean up a spill they may make or to clean up after themselves, but we often forget that we have to teach them the many steps the go into completing this skill. Cleaning up a water spill has several steps and Practical Life lessons break down each of these steps for the child. These lessons also will increase the child’s ability to organize their works that will be of value once they are doing more advanced language and math works.
When children use these types of lessons they also improve their fine motor control, which is important for when they are ready to learn to write. When older four and five years old visit the Practical Life area, they are usually seeking lessons that can ground them and seek a sense of order. Very similar to when we might need a cup of coffee and read the paper in the morning. In short, there is much more that is happening for the child that goes much deeper than it appears on the surface when they are working in the Practical Life area of the classroom. These lessons are of equal value as reading and learning to complete mathematical equations. Practical Life is the foundation for all the curriculums that lead to more advanced work.
Here are some resources to integrate some Practical Life activities in your home: The Montessori Notebook Montessori Services