Category Archives: Early Child Education

montessori childrens academy

The Importance of the Montessori Kindergarten Year

I had the pleasure of running into a recent graduate of The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA) and his family at breakfast last weekend. I asked him how he likes first grade. He told me, “First grade is awesome,” and launched into an impressive monologue about his math class, his soccer team, and how he had just borrowed a chapter book from the school library.

I could tell that his excitement about school had not faded at all since he left Kindergarten at MCA. I couldn’t wait to tell his Kindergarten teacher. When I did, she replied simply, “That’s why I love Montessori Kindergarten.”

The Kindergarten year in Montessori early childhood education, is an incredibly important one, as it is the third and final year of the 3-6 cycle. In her extensive studies of children, Maria Montessori observed and classified four “Planes of Development”. These six-year phases of growth are demarcated by cognitive achievement. In her early work, Dr. Montessori focused on the phase that includes children ages 0-6 years. She termed this Plane of Development “The Absorbent Mind” because she found that young children “absorb” learning from their environment naturally and spontaneously (AMS 2017). Her book, The Absorbent Mind, focuses on this Plane of Development and informs much of MCA’s Early Childhood curriculum.

The oldest children in this phase, 5- and 6-year olds, represent our Kindergarten program. The Kindergarteners are the oldest, most experienced students among the MCA Early Childhood Programs at each of our campuses. This final year of their 3-year cycle provides them with many advantages, from having the opportunity to be classroom leaders and mentors, to stretching their learning with the Montessori materials in the most complex of ways, all while remaining in the warm, familiar, nurturing classroom community they have grown to be a part of over the course of three years. This capstone year of the MCA Early Childhood Program provides the Kindergarteners with great benefits in their academic, as well as their social-emotional development.

A Day in the Life of a Kindergartener at MCA

During the morning work cycle, Kindergarteners have a special role in their mixed-age classrooms. As the oldest members of the class, Kindergarteners have a de facto role as leaders. According to MCA’s Director of Montessori Development, Camilla Nichols-Uhler, Kindergarteners are seen as role models for the 3- and 4-year-olds. Sometimes Kindergarteners even give lessons to their younger classmates. This not only provides the Kindergarteners with an important mentoring role, but it also allows the Kindergarteners to reinforce their prior learning as they teach their younger friends. The 5- and 6-year-olds take their role as classroom leaders very seriously. The cultivation of leadership skills in the mixed-age setting is one of the key benefits of a Montessori Kindergarten year.

In the afternoon, the Kindergarten class is separated from the mixed-age classroom for work in an exclusively same-age peer environment. This afternoon time provides a great deal of subtle preparation for first grade expectations students would find in a traditional school setting. In the afternoon, the students at times will work as a whole group and receive focused instruction in each of the five Montessori curriculum areas. When observing a Montessori Kindergarten classroom at MCA, you may see children working not only with traditional Montessori materials, but also with supplemental educational materials that closely resemble those found in a traditional classroom, including the McGraw-Hill Reading Literature Program, the Primary Phonics Reading Series, and the Handwriting Without Tears resources. The beauty of our Montessori Kindergarten is that the children continue to work and progress as they are ready. They do not need to wait for or catch up to the rest of the group—instead, they work at their own pace, making great academic strides and gaining confidence along the way. The Kindergarten year helps to build a bridge for the children so that they may easily transition from a Montessori early childhood program to whatever elementary program they may enter the following year.

Kindergarteners at MCA receive many benefits in addition to this special daily schedule. During their last year in the 3-6 program, Kindergarteners are granted some exciting privileges, and the opportunities they are afforded in the Kindergarten year increase in this culminating year of the MCA Early Childhood Program.

Benefits of a Montessori Kindergarten Experience at MCA

  • Full-Day Schedule: Many local preschool and Kindergarten programs only offer half-day programs. MCA’s full-day classes help prepare children transition to full-day elementary school programs beyond graduation.
  • Character Building Component: It is difficult to deny the social and emotional benefits of a Montessori Kindergarten program. Building leadership skills, fostering resilience, and developing empowered and responsible members of a classroom community are just a few of the character-related benefits of a Montessori education. In a Montessori Kindergarten program, lessons like these remain with students well beyond their Kindergarten year.
  • Specials: In addition to MCA’s weekly Spanish and Music classes with Mr. Vergara, our Kindergarten students participate in two additional specials. These classes help students develop additional skills for elementary school.
    • Technology: Most elementary schools use laptops, tablets, and other technology in one form or another these days. Our Kindergarteners thus need to be prepared to navigate such devices. We introduce this technology in productive, academic ways. Mrs. Kochanik, MCA’s technology teacher who is a certified Montessori Elementary teacher herself, is an expert in using technology in a Montessori-friendly way, and our students come to understand the use of technology as a tool.
    • Gym: Twice a week, our Kindergarten class gets an extra opportunity to exercise as well. MCA’s Physical Education Program, headed up by Mrs. Larsen and Mrs. Turiansky, teaches Kindergarteners the basic fundamentals of team sports. From dribbling a basketball to learning how to pass a soccer ball to a teammate without using their hands, our Kindergarteners learn the skills they need to stay healthy as they participate in a variety of team sports.
  • Kindergarten “Extras”: During the spring, our Kindergarteners participate in many special events. These include activities which combine Kindergarten students from all three of our campuses, such as a Kindergarten field trip and Field Day, and of course campus specific activities, such as our annual Bake Sales and Kindergarten graduations. This year, our Kindergarten students will have the opportunity to visit the beautiful Rutgers Gardens in New Brunswick for a spring-themed celebration with hands-on, outdoor lessons in Science and Culture.
  • Community Outreach Projects: As leaders in the classroom, the Kindergarten students take on more responsibilities in the charitable endeavors sponsored by the school. They learn how to plan, prepare, and execute a variety of outreach service projects, from bake sales to speaking with community members about the charities they are supporting.

montessori childrens academy

MCA’s Kindergarten Program is an excellent alternative to public or other non-public Kindergarten options. Our full-day Kindergarten provides our students with immeasurable social and emotional benefits in addition to academic rigor. MCA may accept students from other preschool programs to join its Kindergarten classes after a “Kindergarten Interview”, if enrollment space allows. As Dr. Montessori said, “The Absorbent Mind is indeed a marvelous gift to humanity”, and giving your child the opportunity to complete the 3-year Early Childhood Cycle with a Montessori Kindergarten year, is a gift that will be carried with them throughout their educational journey.

If your child is a member of one of MCA’s 3-6 classes and you have further questions about the Kindergarten year, do not hesitate to reach out to your Campus Director to learn more about the benefits of completing the 3-year cycle at MCA.

MONTESSORI PRESCHOOL NJ

Preschool Profiles: MCA’s 2½ – 3½ Program

To ring in the new year at The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA), we welcomed five new families to our 2½ – 3½ class at our Morristown campus. Despite their tender age, our seasoned MCA students gently welcomed these new friends, showing them around the classroom and modeling the manners and classroom guidelines that they have been learning and practicing since September.

The 2½ – 3½ Program at MCA is designed for curious toddlers. Their classroom provides a miniature version of a full 3-6 Montessori prepared environment. The tables, chairs, and shelves are scaled down for use by younger children and are just the right size for the students that use them! The majority of the lessons presented to students in this classroom focus on the Practical Life and Sensorial curriculum areas, which Dr. Montessori considered to be the foundation for all of the traditional, academic subject areas.

This post will give you a peek into one of MCA’s 2½ – 3½ classrooms. To enter the 2½ class, students must be 30 months old by September or January, depending upon campus availability. This program is available at all three of MCA’s campuses, in Chatham, Morristown, and Short Hills.

A Day in the Life of a 2½-Year-Old at MCA

Structure of the day

As in a typical Montessori primary classroom, the school day is organized around the “work cycle”. A work cycle is characterized by children using classroom materials independently and/or receiving individual or small group lessons from a teacher. The work cycle is completed after the children have had ample time to explore the environment and work meaningfully with the materials. When all materials are put away on the shelves, the work cycle ends, and it is usually followed by free playtime on the playground. The work cycle in the 2½ – 3½ classroom is shorter than that in the 3-6-year-old classroom. Typically, the 2½-year-olds work for 1 to 1½ hours, depending on their abilities and the larger school schedule.

Materials used

During the work cycle in a 2½ – 3½ Montessori classroom, you will observe children working with traditional Montessori materials and participating in many developmentally appropriate activities. In the Practical Life area of the classroom, you might find children learning how to button, zip, and snap by using the Montessori Dressing Boards. Or, they might be practicing setting a table or preparing themselves snack. In the Sensorial area, children are busy using the Montessori Knobbed Cylinders, Sound Cylinders, and Color Tablets, just to give a few examples.

Basic Montessori Mathematics and Language materials, like Spindle Boxes and Sandpaper Letters and Numbers, are also a staple of the 2½ classroom. As children master the materials available in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas, they progress into exploration of the more traditional academic subject areas. New materials are added as skills are gained, and the work changes and grows with the students.

Skills learned

Important non-academic skills are gleaned through the children’s work in the 2½ – 3½ Montessori classroom. Toddlers exposed to this unique environment gain skills in the following areas of early childhood development:

  • Care of the Self: Through Practical Life lessons like hand washing and the Dressing Boards, our smallest students gain the skills they need to conduct important everyday activities independently. Lessons that involve self-care are wonderful confidence boosters.
  • Fine and Gross Motor Development: Motor development is a consistent, yet subconscious, focus of the lessons in the 2½ program. Children use their gross motor skills as they learn to control their movement both inside the classroom and out on the playground. They develop fine motor skills as they use their small muscles in every Practical Life exercise, from transferring items using spoons or tongs to practicing pouring wet or dry contents from one pitcher to another.
  • Socialization: Most children in the 2½ program are first-time students. Therefore, they are learning for the first time how to appropriately interact with peers, teachers, and the environment. In MCA’s 2½ – 3½ classrooms, there is an emphasis placed on everyday manners, taking turns, and caring for the classroom materials.
  • Speech and Language: Closely tied to social development, our younger students gain confidence in expressing themselves verbally through interactions with their peers and their teachers. Grace and Courtesy lessons help the children practice new language while at the same time engaging in positive social interactions.

                     

The “Big 3”: FAQs from Parents of 2½-Year-Olds

Is my 2½-year-old ready for school?

This is the most common question that our teachers receive from prospective parents, but it isn’t one that they can easily answer. “Readiness” can mean different things to different people. However, one of MCA’s seasoned 2½ teachers notes that most children really are ready to enter her classroom at the age of 2½. She has found over the years that children are ready and excited to learn important skills like sharing with others, cleaning up after oneself, and exploring their interests in a child-safe environment. Ultimately, it is the parents’ intuition and knowledge of their children that best makes this decision.

Does my child have to be toilet trained to start in the 2½ class?

Your child does not have to be toilet trained to start in the 2½ – 3½ class. Toilet training is a component of the 2½ program in that teachers support the home-based efforts of their classroom parents during the school day.

How do we get into a school routine if this is our first school experience?

Preparing for preschool is crucial, especially for the members of the 2 ½ – 3 ½ class. MCA teachers have found that adjusting home routines like bedtimes and mealtimes in the weeks ahead of the school year is an important first step. The 2½ – 3½ Program also involves a “Phase In” period designed to alleviate separation anxiety and help your child gradually adjust to life in a classroom setting.

“Preschool is Empowering”

Shahrooz Aziminia, the 2½-3 ½ class’s Head Teacher at MCA in Morristown, described the importance of joining a preschool class. “Children want independence,” she said. Children are naturally curious and should have a guide to safely and correctly model both the use of classroom materials and interpersonal interactions. A Montessori classroom provides a safe, prepared environment, and a Montessori-trained Head Teacher provides the proper balance of supervision necessary to allow children to satisfy their inner curiosities. This satisfaction of curiosity, the freedom to learn by doing, is the essence of the Montessori Method.

In a Montessori environment, and in the 2½ – 3½ classroom in particular, children are able to take charge of daily activities. Children learn to serve themselves snack, to put on their coats, and to choose the work they would like to do and put it away. Parents are always amazed to see how much their children can and want to do. The Montessori classroom offers the very activities that inspire independence and empower children to continue to explore their unique capabilities. This setting promotes children’s success as independent, motivated learners and provides significant benefits to Montessori students in the increasingly academic environments that follow.

 

preschool open house nj

Five Questions to Ask at a Preschool Open House (Repost from October 2016)

As this is a common time of year for families to begin their preschool search for the next school year, we would like to once again share with you some pointers when attending a preschool Open House. An Open House provides parents with a firsthand impression that cannot be replicated via a website or a brochure. The opportunity for parents to establish a personal connection with the administration, the teachers, and the classroom environment is one that shouldn’t be missed.

Moreover, an Open House gives parents the opportunity to ask questions to help determine whether the school is the right fit for their family. If you’re just starting out on your family’s preschool search, begin by asking the following five questions when attending preschool Open Houses:

  1. What is the school’s educational philosophy?

Today, there are dozens of different philosophies and methods applied in preschool settings.  First, do your research. Once you know a bit about the different early education philosophies, you may be able to narrow your search based on what you believe fits in with your family’s values and educational goals.

At The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA), we believe that a Montessori education benefits children in so many ways. Montessori classrooms are designed to recognize and address various learning levels and styles. Teachers take unique roles as classroom guides and observers, providing children with the freedom and opportunity to learn at their own pace within a carefully prepared, stimulating environment.

It’s also important to determine how strictly the philosophy is adhered to at each school. This is particularly important if you are looking at Montessori schools. Many parents are unaware that the American Montessori Society (AMS) has established guidelines for adhering to Dr. Montessori’s practices. Programs that work with AMS are required to uphold high standards in areas including teacher certification, classroom preparation, and parent education regarding Montessori education. The Montessori Children’s Academy is an AMS Member School.

  1. How does learning take place at the school?

Children must have opportunities to explore how things work, to move their growing bodies, and to engage in activities that they find enjoyable. Especially with preschoolers, hands-on activities involving multiple senses often better facilitate the growth of children’s natural curiosity and their interest in learning for learning’s sake. When attending an Open House, ask what types of activities the children participate in during their school day. How much time is spent in teacher-directed activity? Do children have opportunities to make choices and move throughout the classroom? What types of learning materials are used?

The materials in Montessori classrooms are attractive, inviting, and meaningful. They also grow with the children, as the lessons move from concrete to abstract concepts. Every aspect of the Montessori classroom promotes the development of fine and gross motor skills, the expansion of new knowledge, and the joy in learning. Children have a balance of independent work time where they choose what they would like to do, small group learning lessons, and large group activities. Learning opportunities are integrated into all aspects of the Montessori classroom.

  1. What is the school’s standard for teacher qualifications?

Some early childhood facilities, like cooperative programs run by local parents, and traditional day care centers, do not require state or nationally recognized teaching certificates for their staff. Regardless of the type of school setting, it is important that preschool teachers understand how children grow and learn. You will also want to find out whether teachers and their assistants are trained in CPR and First Aid, and if they regularly attend continuing education workshops to stay current in their field.

If you are looking exclusively at Montessori schools, check that the teachers have their Montessori teaching credentials. This will ensure that they have been trained in the Montessori Method by a qualified teacher education program. You can learn more about AMS Montessori teaching credentials from the Montessori Center for Teacher Development.

  1. How is discipline handled?

Preschools have a very important responsibility in how their teachers manage their classrooms and help children grow and develop in a healthy, safe environment. Since preschool is often a child’s very first school experience, how discipline is handled can make a difference in how children view school and how well they succeed in learning.

MCA focuses on positive discipline and conflict resolution. Teachers are keen observers in their classrooms, and they are carefully trained to manage a variety of situations before there is any escalation of improper behavior. Redirection, positive reinforcement, and logical consequences allow teachers to help children learn respect, self-control, and responsibility in the most natural of ways. Peace Education is also a significant component of the Montessori curriculum, and children are guided through conflict resolution techniques with the aid of teachers and peers. Montessori classrooms are communities, and children learn that every member of the classroom is valued and important.

Later this month, MCA will host guest speaker Teresa LaSala, a positive discipline expert and author. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, please consider attending this Parent Education event, as it is open to the public. Details can be found on MCA’s website.

  1. What will a typical school day look like for my child?

This is an important question because it will help to alleviate some of the common anxieties that parents have when the first day of school arrives. Understanding how the day flows will help you to determine if your child will be comfortable in the classroom. As young children thrive on routines, it would be helpful to learn about things like what the procedures are for eating snack or lunch at school, using the restrooms, spending time on the playground, or having a resting time. It is important to know how much structure is in the school day. You might also ask what opportunities the children have for socializing with peers, spending one-on-one time with the teacher, or learning responsibility by having a classroom job.

At any Open House, it is important to get a feel for the facility and to meet the staff. Above all, you want to be able to picture your child in the classrooms. If possible, bring your child along to the Open House so that he or she can meet the teachers and interact in the school space. Watching your child explore might make your choice just a little bit easier.

The Montessori Children’s Academy is hosting Winter Open Houses at each of its campuses on the following dates:

Morristown: Saturday, January 21, 2017, 9:00-11:00AM

Chatham: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 9:00-11:00AM

Short Hills: Saturday, February 4, 2017, 9:00-11:00AM

 

Enriching Your After-School Schedule

Enrichment classes are offered by schools, community recreation programs, churches, and even the local library. Enrichment offerings fall into many different categories: sports, STEM, and art are just a few. Enrichment is for everyone, too; there are classes around town geared towards toddlers on up to adults. These recreational activities have something in common. They teach many lessons that go beyond just the subject of the class. I learned this firsthand when I took an enrichment class in college.

In my junior year, my advisor feared that I was working too hard. She suggested taking an enrichment course to break up my tough schedule. I recall laughing at her suggestion, but I soon found myself loving my lunchtime Tennis 1 course.

I learned a lot more than how to hit a backhand in that course. In fact, it became one of my most important college courses. There are four reasons why Tennis 1 was so important to me. And I have since discovered, in my time working in a school setting, that these same four reasons describe the value of enrichment for learners of all ages.

  1. It taught me a skill: Tennis is a game that I can play for the rest of my life. Like learning to cook or to appreciate art, tennis is something that I’ve never forgotten and continue to enjoy. Enrichment classes are designed to help students discover stimulating, social activities that will complement their natural inclination to learn. While enrichment classes are not always purposely designed to teach “life skills” like cooking or playing a sport, they provide your child with the opportunity to learn new things outside of the traditional classroom setting.
  1. It gave me the opportunity to make new friends: I took Tennis with students who were neither in my classes nor my social circle, and I made new friends. Enrichment classes give children the opportunity to interact with children from different classrooms every day. Enrichment thus allows them to broaden their horizons not just through new activity, but also through new personal connections in their school communities.
  1. It helped me to build character: Tennis reminded me to exercise good sportsmanship. I became more respectful of the athletic abilities of others and learned not to take a win or a loss too seriously. Enrichment programs bring children together on a level playing field, as many participants are trying out activities for the first time. Students come together to explore a new activity, often encouraging one another through the process. Enrichments allow students to simultaneously develop confidence in their own abilities and respect for others through group activity.
  1. It led me to adopt healthy habits: In addition to being good exercise, my tennis course reminded me of the importance of taking time to do something fun for myself. I learned to invest more time and effort into my personal well-being and spent time building new relationships with my tennis classmates. Many of us feel overwhelmed by school, work, and family pressures, and we all seem to have never-ending ‘to do’ lists. However, we have to remember to make some time for fun and to focus on things that we are passionate about. This applies to both children and adults. Our mental health is as important as our physical well-being, and enrichment activities allow for uplifting experiences that provide that positive boost. This is one of the most important things that you will learn from enrolling your family members in enrichment classes.

LEAF Approach to Enrichments

From November through February, The Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA) will offer eight different enrichment classes (seven for 3-6 year olds and one for elementary students) through LEAF Approach to Enrichments. LEAF’s enrichment programs provide an array of areas for exploration, creative expression, and social connections after the students’ formal school day is over. LEAF programs combine learning and fun under the guidance of experienced and enthusiastic instructors, many of whom are MCA staff members.

For the 2016-2017 Fall/Winter session, LEAF is offering the following classes for 3-6 year olds*:

  • Adventures in Art
  • All Sorts of Sports
  • Creative Builders
  • Games Galore
  • Kitchen Chemistry
  • Musical Adventures Around the World
  • Science in Bubbles

For students in MCA’s Elementary Program, LEAF is offering an exciting class called Project Discovery. This is a STEM class that combines science, technology, engineering, and math skills, and challenges the students to use their classroom knowledge in a practical setting. The students will be inspired to utilize innovative approaches to take on a variety of design challenges. We’ll be excited to see what all these students create!

Classes will run between November 28, 2016 and February 6, 2017. Enrollment for LEAF classes will begin on Monday, November 7, 2016. For more information about the classes or to register, visit the LEAF website.

Enrichment classes provide lasting benefits. They provide a space for acquiring positive attitudes and healthy habits that promote future academic and social success. They provide opportunities for your children to build new friendships, gain confidence, and discover new passions. Most importantly – they are fun!

 

 

 

*Please note that these classes are offered at different times on different MCA campuses. When registration opens on November 7th, a full class schedule for Chatham, Morristown, and Short Hills will be available on the LEAF website.
practical life montessori

Practically Speaking: Why Practical Life Matters

“The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” ~ Maria Montessori

Often at the beginning of a new school year, children in Montessori classrooms tend to choose much of their work in the Practical Life area over the other areas of the classroom.  For one thing, they are drawn to the pretty materials, which are usually very colorful and inviting in so many ways.  Transferring brightly colored rice from one container to another with a shiny silver spoon or pouring blue-dyed water from one large pitcher into three small cups is very appealing.

Children are also most comfortable with Practical Life work because it involves activities that they see being done every day at home.  Things that are ‘real’ appeal to children who want to do ‘grown up’ types of work and make a meaningful contribution to their homes and classrooms.  Practical Life is the area of the classroom in which children also receive the most lessons from the teacher at the start of the year, and for a very good reason.

On the surface, Practical Life activities provide the children with just that—practical, everyday skills that they need to survive.  Learning how to button and zip, how to set the table and wash dishes, or how to do simple food preparation, is necessary.  But even beyond these essential lessons, Practical Life, if you look at it closely, promotes additional skills that lead children to succeed in each and every other area of the classroom.  How?  Let’s look at just some of the skills that Practical Life teaches:

  1. Planning and Order:  The children learn, step by step, how first to take the work from the shelf to their work space and then set it up.  Sometimes the work requires items from other areas of the classroom, such as an apron, a mat, a bucket, or other tools.  The children learn where things are kept in the classroom and quickly realize the importance of putting things back in their proper places when they are finished using them.  This ensures that everything is ready for the next person who wants to choose that work.
  2. Self-Control: At first, children using the Practical Life materials may be tempted to rush through the activities.  However, in the careful presentation of the work by the teacher, the children discover the beauty and joy of the work done with control.  Instead of hastily scooping up beans with a spoon in a rushed, careless manner, the children learn to observe the beauty of the shape and color of the beans that they collect on the spoon and the lilting sound that they make as they are carefully spooned into the bowl.  Their senses are attuned to each part of the lesson, and they begin to gain an appreciation for a work performed well and with control from start to finish.
  3. Coordination: Grace in movement is important when using the Practical Life materials.  Trying hard to not spill out any drops of water from a pitcher or bowl, the child learns to move with control and purpose.  The children must negotiate how they travel from the shelves to the work space, making sure that all of the materials stay on the tray that they are carrying.  Once at the workspace, the children develop a variety of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.  These grow as the children continue using Practical Life works specifically designed to support this growth.  While teachers may adapt the appearance of the lessons (perhaps changing the color of the water or the types of materials being used), the essence of the lessons remains constant to help children continue to develop their coordination with each activity.
  4. Patience: There is only one of each activity on the classroom shelves.  Popular activities fly off the shelves quickly, and classmates learn that they must wait for their turn if something is already being used.  There is no grabbing a work out of someone else’s hands.  Instead, a child might be invited to watch while waiting.  Similarly, a child must practice patience in order to complete the work.  Many involve several steps, and each step, from set up to clean up, is equally important and necessary.  If a step is skipped, there is a natural consequence that affects whether or not the work can be completed correctly.  Children respond to these natural results and will strive to do the work to the best of their ability with the goal of getting it done ‘just right’ with practice and patience.
  5. Persistence: The Practical Life work is attractive for a reason.  It entices children to return to it again and again to practice important skills and achieve their goal of doing it correctly.  Because the Practical Life area ultimately helps the children develop skills they need in every area of the classroom, persistence and repetition are especially important.  Pouring wet or dry ingredients helps develop hand-eye coordination and estimation; using tweezers or tongs to transfer items strengthens the pincer grip needed for holding a pencil and other tools.  These will become important across academic areas.
  6. Mastery: The repetition of movements helps the children to eventually gain mastery over specific skills.  This is the aim of the Practical Life works, as it is with everything found on the shelves in a Montessori classroom.  The self-correcting materials let the child know whether or not the work was done well and with accuracy.  If the water spills when being poured, the children know they need to pour it more slowly or that they need to pour less in each cup so that the cups don’t overflow.  There is little to no teacher intervention required—the child can see for himself or herself if the work was done right.  Imagine the joy when a child who has struggled with one skill or another finally sees that success has been achieved!  It is that intrinsic feeling of pride that most strongly motivates children to continue to try, to continue to learn, in order to attain that wonderful feeling again and again!

Children’s time in the Practical Life area supports their success all throughout the Montessori classroom and extends into skills that help them all throughout their lives.  Planning, concentration, persistence, patience, and self-control all contribute to the children’s effectiveness in learning every academic subject and in their success in managing social interactions as well.  While Practical Life may seem simple, it is an area of significant importance for life skills.  It is the foundation for all of the learning areas within the classroom and extends beyond it into all areas of life.  As one parent commented to her son’s Montessori teacher, “I love that my child is learning to sew buttons in preschool.  Not only will he be able to fix his own clothes when the time comes, but he may also make a fine surgeon one day!”  Practically speaking, Practical Life really does matter!