Beyond the Practicalities of Practical Life
When preschool parents tour Hillsboro, many of them wonder why our children from the ages of three to six can be seen diligently washing tables, transferring objects, and doing other tasks with such a great sense of joy. The answer is that such practical life activities are not only a well researched and essential aspect of how students learn at this age, but the activities also allow children to construct who they are to become and set a foundation for their learning in later years as well.
Envision a classroom reimagined. Children of all ages delight in being allowed to make choices and become capable. “I do it myself” and “I did it!” are statements that reflect the great pride students develop as they learn to make choices, become responsible for gathering the materials needed to complete their task, work through the process of their chosen activity, and then put the materials away properly for the next person to use them.
Picture children choosing to explore and repeat the work until they deem they are satisfied. In fact, offering help or interrupting the “child’s chosen activity is one of the most harmful forms of repressive action we can take” (Montessori, 1995, 160). Maria Montessori realized the importance of fostering student independence, and commented that “In our schools we give everything needed so that the child can imitate the actions he sees in his home…The room is dedicated to him, and he is free to move about it, talk, and apply himself to intelligent and formative kinds of work” (1995, 169).
Such a classroom exists for your children at The Hillsboro School.
I encourage you to come see our preschool students taking delight in their independent work.
What a peaceful, beautiful picture can be seen observing children working diligently and with pride. As I watch a child pour water over and over again and investigate without interruptions, I see her developing her own learning agenda, concentrating on completing her task. Furthermore, I share in her smile as she discovers what she set out to do! I smile because I know she is fulfilling natural learning needs and her spirit is strengthened through her quiet, self-directed inquiry. Indeed, the practicalities of practical life offer far more than first appears.
Be practical; come see the classroom reimagined!
Dr. Melinda Bray