Practical life activities help the child to practice skills needed for everyday life, for example pouring, tying laces and laying a table. Many of these activities may also be done in the home. As well as helping the child develop his/her physical co-ordination there is the added advantage that the child learns to focus attention for the entirety of an activity. By completing a task properly the child achieves a sense of fulfilment. Practical Life activities also focus on developing the children’s social skills in a multi-age setting.
Small children are vividly aware of the world, taking in impressions through all their senses. The materials in this area stimulate and train the senses not only visually but also through touch, sound, taste and smell. An experience using one sense may often be reinforced by experiences gained through another sense – for example feeling a shape may reinforce a visual impression. Our materials reflect qualities of the environment such as colour, size, shape, texture, and sound and develop the child’s powers of observation, communication and exploration. Work with the sensorial materials lays the foundation for further work in mathematics, language and art.
Children are born with the potential for developing language. It is the child’s opportunities of interaction provided within the environment, that determine how fully a child develops his or her potential. We provide activities that involve real and familiar objects which are verbally introduced as well as to put into use in an activity. Matching cards, books, music to incorporate body language and a peaceful and open space for children to express themselves freely and have conversations with each other.
While every Montessori classroom contains an area that is considered the “Mathematics” area, preparation of the mathematical mind happens throughout the classroom, but especially in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas. Practical life and Sensorial works reinforce mathematical concepts such as ordering, sorting, patterns, getting a sense of shapes, logical sequence, and even some basic one-to-one correspondence (for example, tonging one pom-pom into each opening of a container). The Sensorial materials are designed to emphasize sequential relationships with standard increments. Manipulating these precise objects helps to form the way that the child observes and analyzes their environment. Also in the Sensorial area are the Geometric Cabinet and Geometric Solids. These materials provide the child with early impressions of shape and form, and give the child language for these observations. Throughout the Sensorial area are numerous opportunities for the child to compare and contrast, using multiple senses to do so.
Here the teachers in the Children’s House cover a wide range of subjects which reflect the broad interests of young children. The Montessori environment aims to stimulate these interests and extend the children’s knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of music, craft, art, history, geography, science and the natural world. Different cultures from around the world are also explored.