Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Practical Life

I've been researching Montessori education for a few weeks now. There's so much to learn, and I still have many questions that I need to find answers for, but I'm almost certain that our preschool homeschool experience will have a significant Montessori component.

I've been pleasantly surprised to find that many of the toys we've amassed could fit into a Montessori classroom, but I've also realized that I've not done the best job of helping Linus and Veda to develop what Maria Montessori called Practical Life Skills.

What are Practical Life Skills? They're the skills we all have to acquire in order to act as competent, independent individuals. Practical Life Activities encourage development of fine motor skills, which plays into the importance of the brain-hand connection (more about that here, if you're interested). Practical Life Skills encompass things like tying one's shoes, dressing one's self, slicing a carrot, sorting objects by color, and getting the washing machine started.

Forgive me for sounding like a cranky old man, but kids "these days" suffer from a lack of Practical Life Skills, and often even if they have been taught to do things for themselves, their parents unwittingly handicap them by continuing to do a great many of the things they should be doing for themselves. I saw it and the results of it all the time as a high school teacher - kids who called their parents to drive their homework to school when it was forgotten at home (Parents, PLEASE don't do this. Let kids learn from their mistakes when the consequences are so minor in the grand scheme of things.), kids who wanted the minutes of class change breaks counted down for them instead of referring to their own watches, kids who refused to keep up with a personal organizer because what's the point when their parents and teachers have always done the work of keeping up with their assignments and activities...

I don't want to raise my children to be needy and immature, so it's time to get cracking on Practical Life stuff. A couple of skills we've been working on are drinking from a cup - no sippy and no straw! - and putting dirty clothes in the hamper. It's been so fun to see them get so excited about "hamper time" before the bath, and I think I can almost literally see their confidence in themselves growing when I hand them real cups.

I've been compiling a list of Practical Life Skills for our immediate and near futures:

  • setting the table
  • sweeping
  • dusting
  • feeding dog
  • opening/closing a drawer
  • opening/closing a cabinet
  • opening jars
  • cleaning table with a sponge
  • carrying liquids without spilling
  • using a knife (ex. slicing a banana with a plastic knife)
  • putting books away
  • watering plants
  • washing vegetables
  • match socks in laundry
  • fold washcloths in laundry
  • fold socks in laundry
  • washing dishes
  • drying dishes
  • cleaning a mirror
  • pulling on pants
  • putting on shirt
  • combing hair
  • putting shoes on
  • washing, drying hands
  • zipping a jacket
For now we'll work on adding a couple of new skills every week. Trust me, the point here is not to make my life easier. It's not like one day you can just tell a two-year-old that he'll now be expected to set the table. I'll have to show Linus and Veda how to carefully carry the breakable plates, place cutlery around the plates, etc When the coming school year starts, we'll go into preschool mode, adding lots of fine motor, sensorial, language, and math activities to our daily repetoire that already includes lots of reading, music, and arts and crafts.

Looking forward to it!
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1 comment:

  1. Great list! Kylie loves setting out her play dishes on her little table. I haven't set her loose on the real plates yet. Sounds like you have a great home school plan!


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