• Kari

PRACTICAL LIFE FOR THE REAL WORLD


You likely know about the importance of Practical Life for children of all ages as someone learning about or practicing Montessori. You may have your toddler help you with the laundry, allow your preschooler to help prepare meals in the kitchen, or have your elementary-aged child take out the garbage.


Practical Life can also extend beyond the walls of your home, and for your child, it can add a layer of excitement and connection to your community. Dr. Montessori advocates the importance of “going-out,” where elementary children can practice life skills in their community and indulge their need to discover their roles in society. In a classroom setting, this could look like the children raising money for a field trip.


They then could research places to visit, budget their money, call the locations, plan for drivers and gas, sketch out a route to walk or drive, etc. Building the skills to learn this independence can be fun and an essential part of a homeschool curriculum or everyday living in a family.


“Instruction becomes a living thing. Instead of being illustrated, it is brought to life. In a word, the outing is a new key for the intensification of instruction ordinarily given in the school.” - Dr. Maria Montessori
Homeschool practical life for the real world

It can be tempting to try to corral your child while out running errands or to set them in front of a screen to get your shopping done, but if you can take your trip more slowly and engage them in the process of errands or shopping, it can be rewarding and a true learning experience.


(Note: it’s NOT always going to be possible! If you need a moment of silence in your day or need to get your errands done quickly, that’s okay too. We have all been there; no guilt necessary, promise!)


One of the best ways to teach your child about errands is by explaining certain processes so that they know what to expect. On the way there, perhaps talk about what you are going to do when you get there. Think of everything as a lesson: walking through a parking lot, opening the door, waiting in line, holding the door for others, etc. If you are shopping, ask them to grab what they are able to off the shelf and place it in the cart. It is also important to ask them lots of questions: what do you see? What colors of fruit do you see? I smell something good; what do you think it is? Why do you think we stand here to do this?


Maintain boundaries that you are comfortable with (please, always hold my hand or the cart) but give freedoms and choices when possible (you can stay in this aisle with me, what cereal would you like to choose- this one, or that one? Would you like to place your order or would you like me to?)


Homeschool boy buying vegetables

Give yourself PLENTY of time. Let your child touch things when appropriate- remember, they like to discover their world with their hands, and oftentimes, there isn’t actually harm in it.


If something needs to be treated gently, have them use a one-finger touch. Getting down on their level and explaining that an item needs to be held a certain way can reap great rewards in the self-confidence of the child.


Homeschool boy shopping groceries
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