Practical Life is the first area in the classroom that any new student will explore. The shelves are arranged with the top shelf having the easiest works to complete with the level of difficulty increasing as they move to the lowest shelf. One might see examples of pouring, spooning, tong works, polishing, water transfer with a pipette. Each has a direct and indirect aim well thought out by the directress.
The Montessori directress pays close attention to details in every presentation that they present to the child. I read an interesting comparison with the importance of details whether it be in a classroom or in the basketball arena. Coach John Wooden, who brought UCLA to 10 successful championships in the NCAA, indicated that at their first practice he has his players work on putting on their socks. He demonstrates just how to do it. He carefully rolls each sock over his toes, up his foot, around the heel and pulls it snug. He then goes back to his toes and smooths out the material along the sock’s length making sure there are no wrinkles or creases. His purpose is two fold: wrinkles can cause blisters, and blisters can costs games. The main point is to learn how crucial seemingly trivial details could be.
In a Montessori classroom, we call our environment “prepared” – preparing children for life. Our thrust is to break down each “work” into several simple steps so the child understands the need to concentrate and carefully carry out each step. Our goal is to engage the child in focusing on the specific steps or details to insure success in mastery of the task. The next time your child says “I washed my dishes,” think of it as a process of 10 details or steps, which is not easy for a young child. The purpose is twofold: eliminating dirt reduces germs and reduced germs creates a healthy life.