Practical Life – Introduction

This is an overview of the section in your album that goes over the definition, purpose, characteristics and gives you guidelines on how to present these exercises to your child. This  Free primary practical life album is very useful for children in the 2.5 to 6 year age range whether or not the parents or educators are following a Montessori curriculum. The guiding principles also work for older children, only the activities are changed to suit their skill levels.

Practical Life exercises are “the simple things that all humans do to take care of themselves.” These are the things we adults tend to take for granted and forgotten that we at one point or other we had to learn. From how to brush our teeth, pour ourselves a glass or milk, clean up after ourselves and politely ask for directions.

The purpose of practical life exercises is to aid the child gain skills and help adapt them to the culture within which they live. This is done by:

  • developing control of movement and coordination
  • developing concentration
  • developing independence

You,  as the educator (parent or teacher) must observe the child and determine their level of skill.  You set the child up to be successful by appropriately choosing tasks that are appropriate to his/her of ability.  This ensures that the child is set up for success when they accomplish the task and can gain independence.

The overriding idea here is that by working on  and  succeeding in each of these exercises the child gains skills which help them integrate into the greater community.

An example:

By working on the button frame the child develops control of movement and coordination, by repeating the task until they master it. This practical exercise sets the foundation for the child to button their shirts and sweaters, which not only gains them independence, but is also an integral part of self care within the community.

Next we will go over the characteristics and aspects of the practical life exercises.  We shall also delve into the role of the adult and give the guidelines for presentations.