“To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.”
~ Maria Montessori
Practical life skills are so important to develop in children. Because the child’s independence is a principal goal in Montessori, care of self is especially important. Practical life in Montessori is purposeful activity, which develops motor control and coordination, and develops independence, concentration, and a sense of responsibility. The exercises in practical life cover two main areas of development: care of self, and care of the environment.
Beginning in the Toddler Program children engage in practical life experiences every day. They are given lessons in self care including hand washing, blowing their nose and toileting hygiene as well as caring for the environment, washing dishes, wiping tables etc.
These important life skills continue to be practiced in the Primary program. The teachers continue to reinforce thorough hand-washing practices multiple times during the day. The teachers have modeled singing a song, like the ABC’s, as a concrete guide for the length of time they should be washing. In addition, the teachers have implemented the practice of the children washing their hands upon entering the classroom prior to choosing work each day.
The teachers in all programs continue to reinforce proper handwashing and hygiene during cold and flu season. Currently, teachers are asking students to wash their hands upon entering the building and all faculty and staff are doing so as well. They have had additional conversations with the older students given the current concerns.
The Lower Elementary teachers have reviewed handwashing procedures, and have a written reminder near the sink area, with a “handwashing clock” that indicates 20 seconds for proper handwashing.
They have also shown the students a visual to emphasis the effectiveness of using soap:
In Upper Elementary the class discussed the importance of washing hands and were shown a video outlining the steps. Students are instructed to wash hands upon arrival, before eating snack and lunch, and anytime they leave class to use the bathroom. The teachers are vigilant and remind students to follow through with the proper hand washing technique showing courtesy to others in the class.
In the Middle School the teachers remind students to wash hands for 20 seconds before eating, after using tissues, etc. We clean door handles, light switches, and tables frequently.