In the Practical Life area there are activities arranged to allow children to make
independent work choices. On each tray is a complete activity. All items needed are
neatly arranged on the tray for the child’s exploration. Some activities may need a
lesson but most do not. A child can carry the pouring rice tray to a table and work
independently. This prepared environment in which a child can freely choose their
work was something that Montessori knew was essential in the classroom.
Practicing the activities of daily life allows a child to become confident and
independent in caring for herself. Washing hands, squeezing sponges and sweeping
with a dust pan and broom are valuable skills to have in taking care of yourself and
your environment but there are other more important goals that Montessori had in
mind when designing these activities for a child. As a child works with these materials
she is building concentration, coordination, independence and order.
Take sweeping for as example. Holding a dust pan in one hand and a broom in the
other, a child must organize herself to coordinate these movements. In the classroom
we see young children work on skills like this on a daily basis. For a toddler it takes
great concentration to move from bending over with a dust pan to standing up, to
walking all the way across the room, balancing crumbs to navigate their way to the
trash can, and finally dump the crumbs successfully into the trash. Each time this
happens from start to finish it feels like success is its own reward and a child can feel
proud of their own accomplishments.