Upon entering a Primary Montessori classroom for the first time, children are drawn to the Practical Life area immediately. Children marvel at the opportunity to complete tasks they often see their parents do at home such as Food Preparation, Care of the Environment, and Self-Care. While the children practice spreading jam on crackers and watering plants they are fine tuning their motor skills which will be essential to writing later on in their educational journey.
The Practical Life Curriculum created by Maria Montessori has 4 direct aims; they are concentration, coordination, independence, and order. These four aims will contribute to later success in handwriting.
Children must be able to concentrate for extended periods of time when writing. Through many works in Practical Life children build stamina needed for writing. A child must practice a skill repeatedly to master it, this is seen when practicing pouring. If one rushes through pouring, there will be spills. When time and concentration are exerted there are minimal spills.
Fine and gross motor skills gained through work in Practical Life are crucial to being a confident, competent writer. When children lack hand strength and dexterity, writing becomes tiresome and tedious. With repeated practice lacing, twisting, pouring, and scrubbing, using the whole hand and different tools, a child gains greater control and manipulation of a pencil using their whole hand and pincer grip.
Independence is gained when a child is able to break down the steps of an activity and complete it unassisted. Once a child feels confident enough to complete work independently, s/he is more likely to jump into new task without hesitation, writing included.
One of the main tenets of the Montessori philosophy is a sense of order. Walking into a classroom, you instantly see order on the shelves. Typically, shelves are not too crowded, and they are neat and tidy. From the early days of school beginning children learn that they play a pivotal part in maintaining the order of the room. Completing a work cycle involves taking a work to a table, engaging with the material, and then returning it to the shelf orderly. When a child is able to do this and understands the importance of order, s/he is able to form letters which also follow a particular order.
Works to prepare the child’s hand for writing are boundless in the classroom. Many of the initial activities are found in the Practical Life area. The skills gained working with these materials will set a child up for later success when writing becomes a large part of his/her daily responsibilities.
To learn about a language material which also prepares Primary students for writing, visit our Featured Lesson page on the Moveable Alphabet.