The foundation of Montessori education is really the best place to start when first becoming acquainted with the method. It can be a challenge to explain to parents the importance of the Practical Life lessons and how they are truly the foundation of Montessori. There are so many facets of this area that are often overlooked or undervalued. It's not until a child struggles in the other areas of the Montessori environment that the origins of the struggle can often be traced back to the lack of experience in Practical Life.
We wrote about the Practical Life area here and how it responds to the needs of the young child. It's helpful to review the theory behind the Practical Life lessons so that you can bring new life to this area of your classroom. New P.L lessons spark interest and can be a breath of fresh air to an area that feels stale.
We've sat through many discussions with lower elementary Montessori teachers who are struggling to normalize their classrooms at the beginning of the year and well beyond. They're finding that some children who have transferred from other schools (sometimes Montessori, sometimes not), or have moved up from the Casa, are struggling. The most common behaviors I've heard from these teachers are: loud, clumsy, unorganized, and lack focus. More often than not, they are children who lack the exposure to the Practical Life lessons.
Unfortunately, it's not possible to go back and redo those valuable Practical Life experiences because the children have already passed through those sensitive periods.
If you are with primary aged children, please do not overlook the Practical Life area! The possibilities of the Practical Life lessons are only limited by your own imagination.
We'd like to share with you a blog post written by a Montessori teacher who is currently in the classroom. Her post, "The Significance of Practical Life", is very well written, includes some good pictures, and serves as a reminder to us all: Practical Life is the foundation of Montessori.