Child Development: Care of Self, Care of the Environment


Submitted by: Sarah Jane

–          A common Montessori practice in your very own home!

Practical Life

Develops motor skills, concentration, eye-hand coordination and builds self-confidence!

That cozy little home of yours is where learning truly begins, from the very time your child is born till the days your child leaves for college. Montessori often emphasizes the importance of ‘care of self’ and ‘care of the environment’ because it is nothing short of natural as part of your child’s moral and emotional development. These principles are most exploited through the environment you set for your child. Though this is done through the subject classified as ‘Practical Life’ in a normal Montessori setting, we can also embrace this subject within the home. Practical life exercises and materials are those that form part of our child’s daily life. From buttoning his own shirt, to putting away the dishes, these are exercises that slowly but surely help a child to adapt and orientate him/herself into the environment, in this case – home.

There is no ‘special or secret material’ in a Montessori environment under Practical Life. It is exactly how and what you prepare for the child that will aid him/her in this aspect of development. A teacher allowing the children to pick up a wet cloth and wipe the table is considered part of Practical life. A child cleaning up spilt milk in the classroom on his own is also another aspect of Practical life. Knowing this, you can begin to construct your own conducive learning environment in your home rather than waiting for your little one to pick it up solely at school.

Being parents, we often have a natural tendency to keep our kids away from things such as a drinking glass, the kitchen utensils and other things we think would harm the child. But ponder over this – this tendency is precisely what disrupts a child’s adaptation skills. Not implying that you should hand your child a kitchen knife to begin with, but rather have a child-safe set of proper functioning utensils for your child’s use. Prepare glasses, pouring jugs, etc that are child-sized and allow your child the freedom to explore with them.  Have a set of child-like broom and dustpan so he/she can feel free to pick it up and use it anytime! Practical life materials and activities equip a child with life skills even if they seem insignificant to many. In accordance to Maria Montessori’s intense observation of children and research, it was discovered that children have an especially strong desire to perform the duties of an adult, though we as parents may dislike doing so ourselves. Participating in real-life activities teaches your child self-control, respect of self and helps build self-confidence. Your child will also begin to pick up on the importance of him/herself towards the environment and develop a healthy self-image through these activities.

Remember, get your little darling to help out around the house whenever possible and prepare to be amazed!

As quoted from Maria Montessori (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952), “The environment itself will teach the child, if every error he makes is manifest to him, without the intervention of a parent or teacher, who should remain a quiet observer of all that happens.”

About the Author

Sarah Jane is certified & trained in Montessori Teaching, with years of expansive knowledge and experience with young children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Sarah Jane expresses her love and interest for child development through her writing, constantly sharing and promoting awareness to parents and educational workers from all walks of life. She is also the co-founder of a multinational marketing firm Hot Fry Media (http://hotfrymedia.com).

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