These activities she has seen before coming to the classroom so they help her to feel comfortable.
When the child comes to the room she wants to be a part of the group and these exercises give her the confidence to do that. These are shown to the child when she first enters and then continues to use throughout her time here and throughout life. They are simple exercises that reflect the day to day world she lives in. (pouring, spooning, washing hands, folding)
The Five Areas of Practical Life
Simple necessities for the child’s success in the beginning – (rug, door, sponging)
Care of Self
These help the child to prepare and take care of herself. (dressing frames, handwashing)
Care of Environment
These help the child to develop a sense of maintenance and responsibility. she participates in the beauty of the environment. (sweeping, flowers, table washing, dusting)
Grace and Courtesy
Small group exercises that are very brief. Their purpose is to show the child the ways to move and talk in the classroom. (how to: apologize, greet someone, offer help)
Done with the whole group, walking on the line. Helps to develop posture, concentration and ability to center oneself. Silence Game
The exercises isolate one activity for the child to work on (sponging, dusting, opening and closing) until she has perfected it. Then she can use that skill in more complicated work. (dusting–polishing)
The children love the Practical Life area because they have inner needs for work and movement. But the child does not do this work to produce a finished product. It is the work of perfecting the process that appeals to her.
She wants to be engaged with the environment so she can become a part of it.
The children also enjoy working with the materials because the materials suit their body’s ability and size. The room and its contents are manageable and functional
Characteristics of Practical Life Exercises
The exercises begin as simple (spooning) and become more complex as the child becomes ready.
The materials are often made of glass so that the children can experience that objects break and can be cleaned up. Also through knowing that objects are breakable – the children become more careful with the movements.
Many of the P.L. exercises give the child the opportunity to develop her pincer grip (button frame). This helps to develop fine motor skills which prepares the hand for writing.
There is only one of each material. The purpose being that the children have the opportunity to develop patience and respect.
There are 3 basic aspects to working with all of the materials:
Each of these three aspects are equally important. They each offer the child an opportunity to concentrate and as her ability to concentrate grows more complicated exercises are presented to her.
Each exercise has a control of error which means that the materials let the child know when a mistake has been made – instead of an adult needing to interfere. (too much polish, dirty underlay, bean on tray)