EXERCISES OF PRACTICAL LIFE
These activities allow the child to come to terms with immediate environment. Through the exercises of practical life, the child develops motor co-ordination and refines a conscious awareness and internalization of the immediate environment. These exercises allow the child to bring order to mental processes and for independence from adults. Fundamentally, these exercises are the same all over the world, but distinct in their expression in different societies, since they reflect the domestic life of the particular culture.
The exercises of Practical Life fall into four major categories: Care of the Self, Care of the Environment, Grace and Courtesy, and Control of Movement. Many are fundamental exercises that the child needs to master to be able to live comfortably in the real world.
The sensorial materials offer the child the opportunity to put things on order, to structure, to classify and to categorize. These clear concepts, which can be abstracted, lay the foundation for mathematics, geometry, language, biology, art and music.
The Sensorial area consists of materials that educate and refine the child’s senses. The child learns to recognize similarities and differences, to discriminate between similar objects; to grade similar objects. Qualities discriminated with the visual sense are size, shape, and color; with the tactile sense are texture, temperature, and pressure; with the auditory sense are intensity and pitch. Basic sensations of sweet, sour, bitter, and salty are discriminated with the gustatory sense; various odors/fragrances are used to discriminate the olfactory sense.
They explore the decimal system at first with number up to ten, then later extending this up to a thousand. Using the materials composed of pearls, invented by Maria Montessori, the child adds, subtracts, multiples and divides the concrete quantities. The pearl materials range from a single unit to lines of tens, squares of hundreds, and blocks of thousands. Through he activities of putting together and taking apart, the child unconsciously comprehends the interaction between the numbers. As the exercises proceed on an increasingly abstracter continuum the child is prepared to move increasingly from performing the arithmetical functions with the concrete materials to the abstract manipulation of quantities, and a maturation of mathematical understanding.
Geography, History, Biology, Botony, Zoology, Art and Music are Presented as extensions of the sensorial and language activities. Children learn about other cultures past and present, and this allows their innate respect and love for their environment to flourish, Creating a sense of solidarity with the global human family and it’s habitat.
The Montessori cultural studies is another thing that makes the Montessori classroom different from other ones. Maria felt that having knowledge and understanding of such subjects is what makes one a “cultured” person.
The Montessori classroom is designed in such a way that all activities gear themselves naturally toward the development of the skills required for oral and written language and reading. Language development is also encouraged in the classroom because of the freedom of conversation allowed to the children. In the Montessori environment encouragement of self expression is fostered through communication between children and their peers and children and adults.
Montessori’s language materials carry great importance because they provide a step by step development of language for the children at the age when their urge is greatest for the development and mastery of language.