Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Elementary Practical Life

Primary level practical is so beautiful - all those trays, with neatly laid out items.

The Exercises of Practical Life can be such a conundrum though!

Most of society does not eagerly embrace the idea that a 3 year old can safely and appropriately utilize a very sharp utensil (the sharper, the safer!) to chop carrots. Among other beautiful practical life activities.

Those who embrace the Montessori way of observation and response, DO see this ability and strive to respect it in the best way each person can (with personal limitations). Thus we provide this necessary work for the child's development - with all of its benefits that go far beyond knowing how to cut a carrot. We embrace it, we love it, we multiply to the point it no longer is "practical" just because we can! It is almost TOO easy! I've been there too, so I am not condemning those who might "EPL" that are not really truly practical life ;)

On the flip side, most of the society recognizes that elementary children are capable of chores and some responsibilities, thus there is recognition of the value of "exercises of practical life" in that regard. Still there is little to no recognition of work for work's sake, or work for the sake of developing the inner person.

And us Montessorians do not have a pretty laid out practical life section in our elementary albums. There are lots of lists of ideas - and all are fantastic! But gone are the nice, neat trays - replaced with supply shelves that look more like real life; gone are the nicely laid out album pages - replaced with presentations that look more like grace and courtesy style and can (and sometimes SHOULD) look like a LOT like you're teaching on the fly. Which is ok! Because that is real life!

but it so hard for us to let go.

YES. We need to think through as much as we can (analysis of movement; hence the umpteen steps in the primary EPL); but if your child is ready and has the necessary background to make you scrambled eggs and cheese in pita bread for breakfast... might I suggest you NOT  (meaning me) hold him back because YOU (meaning I) have not been able to analyze the 327 steps in preparing such a meal not to mention clean-up - he's probably ready. If you've given the foundation, then HE knows how to analyze movements and slow down and think through what he is doing (imperfectly perhaps - but we all start from somewhere) and he has confidence and just enough skills to challenge himself on something that is just within his grasp.

Enjoy the moment! Seize the day!

Eat the eggs! Have the courage to ask for more!


A VERY delicious breakfast! 

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