The Practical Life activities are crucial to the development of the child in the Casa dei Bambini classroom.
As the very first area explored in the classroom, the child is immediately invited to contribute to his new community by engaging in meaningful work through everyday materials and tasks. The child is familiar with these materials from his home but now they are the right size for his hands and the right height for his body!
As the materials are real and purposeful, they produce observable consequences and give the child immediate feedback during the activity. He learns quickly that a certain tilt of the wrist will cause a spill from the glass jug while pouring, or that carrying a tray with fragile objects requires one to walk ever so carefully. To reach mastery, each task requires controlled and coordinated muscular movements from the child. In particular, the hand strengthens as the child repeats these actions, preparing for him for writing later on. With maximum effort, he devotes himself wholeheartedly to these activities; for the child, the joy rests entirely in the act of doing and not the final product. He begins to engage in culturally relevant and familiar tasks which provide him with the means to develop:
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Motor planning
- Sequence, logic, and order
- Social and communication skills
Children acquire many daily living skills and can fill their mornings with purposeful and real tasks such as food preparation, polishing, and washing. As the child matures during the three year cycle, his activities become increasingly multi-step and cultivate his problem solving abilities. Gradually, the child becomes one of the independent caretakers of the classroom; responsible and contributing to his community, while free to repeat this familiar work as often as he likes. These activities are designed to be successful and mastered only through practice and repetition. He absorbs that by organising his movements, his efforts to achieve each task improve over time. All of the materials here give the child the means to develop concentration while performing activities that they adore, and prepare the child's focus for later academic work. He is independent, purposeful and engaged. This experience of energised focus and enjoyment in the process of an activity is soaked up by the Absorbent Mind and will stay accessible to the child forever.
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“The education of even a small child, therefore, does not aim to preparing him for school, but for life”Maria Montessori