Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Importance of Practical Life Activities in the Montessori Elementary Classroom

importance NAMC montessori practical life activities classroom children gardening
Practical Life Activities are a major part of the Montessori preschool program. By about five years of age, though, children need and want more than simple activities such as organizing and cleaning. The sensitive period of order has passed and they are now moving into the next stage where they favor more elaborate activities such as cooking, vacuuming, and sewing. They are inquisitive and want to know how and why things happen the way they do. In the Montessori elementary classroom, Practical Life activities build a bridge between the hands-on activities at the Montessori preschool level and become increasingly more abstract.

The Importance of Practical Life Activities in the Montessori Elementary Classroom

importance NAMC montessori practical life activities classroom elastic board
In the 3-6 Montessori classroom, children freely choose Practical Life activities throughout the day. In the Montessori elementary classroom, time for Practical Life activities becomes more limited. Elementary children are also involved in the Practical Life activities as soon as possible, as they are eager to participate and practice their newly acquired skills. The focus of the activities is on doing and making real things. Some activities may be done individually, such as latch hooking a rug or creating designs with an elastic band board. Others such as making muffins or planting a garden are best done as a group. Unlike Practical Life activities in the 3-6 classroom, elementary activities can be somewhat lengthy and complex and should be broken into stages over time.

The Value of Continuing Practical Life Activities

Just as Practical Life activities in the Montessori preschool help build independence and increase concentration, elementary Practical Life activities allow elementary students to benefit by allowing them to develop and practice skills that will help them not only in other parts of the curriculum, but throughout life as well. Elementary Practical Life activities also benefit special needs students and those who find it difficult to transition into the elementary classroom. Here are some of the benefits associated with incorporating Practical Life activities into the Montessori elementary classroom:
  • Expanded concentration
  • Following step-by-step instructions
  • Attention to detail
  • Practicing sequencing
  • Developing logical thought patterns
  • Increasing sense of independence
  • Improving fine motor skills
  • Restoring energy by choosing activities which calm and refresh
  • Developing a sense of pride in a job well done
  • Showing respect for self, classmates, teachers, and the environment
  • Developing self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-control
These skills can be developed by practicing activities in the following areas:

importance NAMC montessori practical life activities classroom children's quilt
  • Memory and perception
  • Motor skills and creativity
  • Food preparation
  • Fabric crafts
  • Planting
  • Social graces
  • Larger, special projects, such as a poetry recital or Mother's Day tea
It can be tempting to forego Practical Life activities in the elementary classroom. The curriculum becomes more academic and parents worry that their children need more rigorous work. However, elementary Practical Life activities remain an integral part of the Montessori curriculum. No other area in the Montessori curriculum provides students with the same opportunity to focus on developing real-life skills that will see them well into their adulthood.

Read our related blog: The Importance of Practical Life Activities in the Montessori Preschool Classroom
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, June 11, 2008.


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