Practical Life – Part 2

Today we continue our series exploring the Practical Life area of the Montessori classroom, focusing in this post on the ways in which Practical Life skills benefit other curriculum areas. 

Many of the exercises in the Practical Life area are preparation exercises of Sensorial works. The exercises help to fine tune the development of the child’s senses. Many uses of the five senses occur in the Practical Life area: sound, sight, and touch are used in equipment-bases activities, such as bean scooping; smelling and tasting are involved in the preparation of food.

Practical Life not only develops the child’s senses and teaches real life skills, but sets the basic foundation for other areas to come. For example, understanding size, weight, and equal distribution are skills which are vital when the child is introduced to the Math area of the classroom.

Perhaps the most significant is the development of the pincer grip, which allows the child to correctly grip a pencil and begin working in the Language area.

A Response to the Common Core Standards

The best schools are based on excellent classroom practices, have an established pedagogy, and focus on personalized teaching and learning. Montessori monitors the child’s progress throughout the year; it is not just about the end of the year assessment. Those opposed to the Common Core Standards refer to our children as the newest “guinea pigs” in education. In contrast, the first Montessori classroom was opened in 1907 and its philosophy has not changed. Currently there are over 30,000 Montessori school worldwide.

Diane Ravitch was the former Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander during the George W. Bush administration. She was responsible for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement in the U.S. Dept. of Education. She led the the federal effort to promote voluntary state and national academic standards. Read her thoughts on the Common Core Standards.