Posts Categorized: Primary III
Practical life…practically amazing
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work in several Montessori schools across the nation. One of the most common concerns from parents is…”My child spends too much time in practical life…”
What Maria Montessori called the exercises of Practical Life actually help children’s brains develop. With the repetitive movements, the child is learning how to learn. And, in the process, children become confident and independent.
From Imitation to Learning
Observing young children in the early twentieth century, Montessori understood how a child’s brain develops through movement. She provided children with activities to perfect their seemingly random motions and involve the thinking process. When performing the skills of daily living, an adult sees a chore to be completed while the child loves the process itself. At the same time, the child gains muscle control, improves eye-hand coordination, and activates the brain.
Recently, Montessori’s theories have been confirmed by pediatric neuropsychologist Steven Hughes, PhD. In his research at the University of Minnesota, he found that the child’s strongest link to his brain are his hands, noting that repeated motor movements help develop the pathways in the brain that help children learn.
For the Youngest Child
The young child of 12 to 18 months is very observant and will imitate the adult. He learns and can follow your lead as you return toys to the shelf or put clothes away. You might show your child how to:
- Take one item, such as a pair of socks or a t-shirt, and carry it with two hands to place on the low shelf or open drawer in his room.
- Hang a towel on a low hook and put his toothbrush in its holder.
- Put clothes in the nearby laundry basket or hamper as he undresses.
- Remove one spoon at a time from the dishwasher, taking it to the silverware drawer or basket.
“I Can Do It Myself”
Between the ages of two and four, your child becomes more verbal and independent, with more muscular control and a greater ability to be of help. Previously, there was little interest in actually completing a task, because the activity itself was intriguing to your child as she unconsciously refined the brain-to-body pathways. With increased coordination and a growing sense of independence, your child is ready to take on more complicated tasks. Now you might demonstrate how to:
- Fold simple items of laundry such as dish towels or napkins before they are placed in their proper place.
- Set the table, carrying one placemat to the table at a time, then napkins, and then a spoon on each mat. You will know when her coordination is good enough to add the forks, knives, and plates.
- Buckle the car seat chest straps, showing how they snap together.
- Pour dry ingredients like rice or beans from one container to another, in preparation for pouring milk from a small pitcher to a glass.
You can watch as your child figures out how to accomplish a new activity by herself. There’s no need to remind or hover, she will know she can ask someone for help if needed. More ideas can be found in the article Let Me Help.
Small Steps Lead to More Freedom
As your child develops and grows, he can do more. Continue to be patient, and be certain to demonstrate each new activity slowly and simply. Perform only the necessary movements and separate each individual step. Stay nearby to offer assistance if necessary. Observe; do not correct or interrupt.
Young children live in the present – they do not hurry on to the next thing as adults do. Watch your child busy at work, gaining control over the muscular and nervous systems. It is the process itself, not the goal that is involving. Imagine how your child’s brain is making new connections – you can almost see the wheels turning. Your child might repeat the task over and over, fulfilling the inner need for movement that connects brain and hand. It’s amazing!
“Once a direction is given to them, the child’s movements are made…so that he himself grows quiet and contented, and becomes an active worker…calm and full of joy.”
—Maria Montessori, Montessori’s Own Handbook
—by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.
—Originally Published 2013.
Thank you to Mrs. Janell Z. for a fabulous presentation on Rwanda! It was great to learn more about the people, animals, culture and arts of Rwanda. Thank you to Lauren N. for laminating our African culture cards!!
We look forward to tending our garden this spring!!
Our class has enjoyed learning about the skeletal system and human body during the month of February. I hope the children shared with you what they learned! A big thank you to Jake’s mom, Anu, for an amazing presentation on the heart. The children had a blast checking their pulse, oxygen, and dressing up like a surgeon. Also, thank you to Greta, Elijah’s mom, for teaching us the components of blood.
We enjoyed learning about American Presidents.
The children all eagerly participated in our Valentine exchange and celebration!
This year, our class will be representing the continent of Africa for the multi-cultural festival, so March will be a fun-filled journey to Africa. We will be using maps, flags, tasting different types of foods, learning about amazing places and taking a look inside life on the other side of the planet. Again this year, our class will create a video about Africa to be presented at the Multi-Culti Festival in April. March will also take us “out of this world” as we study our solar system.
In celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, we invite the children to wear pajamas to school and bring their favorite book on Wednesday, March 4. We will spend the day reading and make a special snack.
This week as we celebrate Montessori education week, we are planting seeds to begin our garden indoors. We are looking forward to transplanting our seeds in our garden in April. Please sign up on our bulletin board if you would like to donate a bag of soil for our garden.
“The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” – Maria Montessori
In this month of January, after returning to school from the winter break, we have been exploring the organs of our human bodies and our five senses. Since the human body is so amazing, we will continue our human body curriculum into February, learning about our skeletal system. Children enjoyed the presentation about the digestive system presented by Ms. Valerie. We will also have some special guests coming into the classroom to share information on the human body. Children are having fun learning the “Body Song”.
Also, this month we are exploring the continent of Antarctica. Children are working on tracing, painting and coloring the map of Antarctica. They are also getting to know about the animals of the continent. On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, we will celebrate “Sankranti”, the festival of harvest, in our classroom.
February is observation month, so please sign up for a time to come and observe a class at MSH. Also, we will start learning and working on the continent of Africa for our Multicultural Festival.
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. In the month of November, we learned about trees, leaves and why they change colors, Thanksgiving tradition, and the continent of Asia. We will continue learning about Asia in December, too. Children enjoyed making and sharing fruit salad. Thanksgiving Feast was so much fun. Thank you very much for the parents who helped with the feast. Kids enjoyed making hats and necklaces for the feast. Also, this month, we celebrated and learned about Diwali, the festival of lights. For art, the children made Diya and also had fun making ‘puri’ (fried bread) and eating it.
In December, we will learn about some more Festivals and Culture from around the world. We are planning to do some holiday cooking. We will also do a holiday book exchange in our classroom on December 19. Please send a book (gift wrapped) with your child by Wednesday December 17. We are planning to have a Pajama Day in our classroom. We will let you know the details later.