Children are naturally interested in activities they have witnessed. Therefore, Dr. Montessori began using what she called “Practical Life Exercises” to allow the child to do activities of daily life and therefore adapt and orientate himself to the world around him.
The purpose of Practical Life is to help the child gain control in the coordination of his movement, and help the child to gain independence and adapt to the world around him. Practical Life Exercises also aid the growth and development of the child’s intellect and concentration and will in turn also help the child develop an orderly way of thinking.
During the child’s sensitive period between birth and 6, the child is constructing the inner building blocks of his person. It is important for the child to participate in activities to prepare him for his environment, that allow him to grow independently and use his motor skills, as well as allow the child to analyze difficulties he may have in the exercise and problem solve successfully.
Montessori also saw the child’s need for order, repetition, and succession in movements. Practical Life Exercises help the child to develop his coordination in movement, his balance and his gracefulness in his environment, as well as his need to develop the power of being silent. Activities of everyday living include pouring, spooning, polishing, care of the environment, care of self and food preparation. Many of these activities are also designed to reinforce and strengthen a child’s fine motor skills, preparing the child for holding a pencil, writing letters and finally words on their path to reading.