When we think of practical life for children, I think we often think of children 3 and up. However you can start very early, and in our home we like to start as soon as they can walk. The first practical life activity is usually for them to self-feed and to go pick things up for us such as their diapers, their shoes...
We do practical life to help our children gain control and better coordination of their movement but also to gain independence and adapt to our society. In Maria Montessori's own words:
“The exercises of Practical Life are formative activities, a work of adaptation to the environment. Such adaptation to the environment and efficient functioning therein is the very essence of a useful education.” ~ Maria Montessori
“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.” ~ Maria Montessori
Here is a more detailed list of what Theo can do at 13 months and how we have prepared the environment to help him to do it himself.
In the bedroom, these are the shelves for Matisse (yellow) and Theo (white). The shelves are accessible for both of the kids and although Theo cannot do much yet, he will grow into it very fast. We are using some IKEA drawers and each drawer is labeled with what is inside with a drawing, in English, and in French. At this point, Theo loves socks and will bring me socks when I ask for them. I am working on him bringing me his diaper but as soon as I remove the dirty diaper he likes to take off running so I am thinking we may skip that I go on to pants next. He cannot grab his shirts yet as he is a bit too short but should be able to in the next few months.
Some days, I will leave for 2 minutes and he will go through everything and it will look like that! And that's ok! I just pick it up and show him how we do it and try to get him to help me! Surprisingly he doesn't make a mess very often!
He loves to go grab a book from the bookshelves in his bedroom and bring it to us to read. We use forward facing low bookshelves so it is easy to grab and they can more easily see the book. He cannot grab the books on the higher shelves yet and they are intended for Matisse.
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