Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Practical Life? Revisited!

Below is a re-post about practical life from over a year ago. (I've just celebrated my one year anniversary of blogging!). I though it might be helpful to our new families and to others who want to know more about practical life to post this information again. 

When we first began our atrium, I was skeptical about Montessori's Practical Life Exercises.  Don't get me wrong - I could see their value in a Montessori setting but I wasn't convinced that we needed them in the atrium.  We began with just a few basic activities, but I quickly discovered the spiritual dimensions of practical life, and now we can't get enough of it!  In fact, I first became interested in blogs as a way of hearing from some of the wonderful Montessorians on the web who write about their practical life exercises.  Setting up practical life, and changing it to meet the needs of the children as their skills develop over the year requires a good deal of observation and creativity, and I have come to enjoy it as much as the kids!

We have practical life activities in all of our atria, but by far the most can be found in the Good Shepherd Atrium (for 3-6 year olds).  Over the years, I have observed a strong connection between handwork and spirituality.  Pouring beans from one pitcher to another, moving water with an eye dropper, arranging flowers in a vase -- one only needs to observe a young child engaged in these activities to recognize the deep concentration, peacefulness and contentment that they can elicit.  Concentration, peace, and contentment are key attributes of prayer and meditation, and practical life builds up these attributes in the children better than anything else. As the child's capacity for concentration and joy in the presence of God grows, so does his or her ability to listen to presentations and mediate on the aspects of the Bible and the liturgy of the Church that we are offering in the atrium. 

In these first weeks, practical life will get quite a work out in our atria - and we catechists couldn't be happier!

For pictures of some of the practical life works featured on the blog this year, click here.


  1. I love the acorn work that the little girl on the rug has! I may go acorn hunting for my atrium! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Congratulations on a year of blogging! I look forward to more!

  3. @Stephanie Good luck with your hunting! I love those too!

  4. @Storyteller Thanks so much Storyteller! One of the blessings of this year has been meeting you and enjoying your blog!

  5. What a lovely post, Leslie! Congratulations on your blogiversary! Thanks so much for the beauty you've added to the blogosphere. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page:


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