Practical Life Series #1 - What is practical life?

This is the first post in a progression of practical life activities. This series will start from the very beginning of practical life activities and form a base for your child to begin their journey to independence. Along the way, we will cover lots of concepts, but we will try to keep these posts very readable and focused on taking action with your child. 

Since this is beginning of the series, this post will be focused on addressing the question, "what is practical life?". 

Practical life activities are exactly what they seem. They are activities focused on improving ones ability to be independent by learning the basic skills of life. We want to help our children become confident in their movement and learn the proper way to approach different tasks from an early age. In order to do this, children need to develop proper concentration, coordination and fine motor control that these practical life activities aim to enhance. 

Practical life exercises are separated into four different groups, Preliminary Applications, Applied Applications, Grace and Courtesy and Control of Moment.

Preliminary Applications: These are the exercises that help the child gain the necessary movements used to carry out the basic tasks of ordinary life. Think pouring, folding, carrying...etc. Preliminary exercises are where we start with practical life as it establishes a foundation to build upon. 

Applied Applications: Applied applications are the exercises that involve activities that can be directly translated into everyday life. For example, how to button, zip and snap or how to wash your hands. These exercises teach care for the person and care for the environment and others.  As you can see, these activities are more advanced than the preliminary exercises but require additional concentration and coordination as the child learns about the care and maintenance that helps everyday life. 

Grace and Courtesy: Grace and courtesy exercises teach the child how to live in a society. These exercises are focused on how to interact with others and prepare the child for school and beyond. 

Control of Movement: This group of exercises focuses on teaching the child how to increase their coordination and control their own movements. Exercises that teach balance (like walking on a line) is an example of what you will find in this grouping. 

Practical life exercises are meant to simulate everyday life. The objects used in the exercises are the exact same objects that will be used all the way into adulthood. The child will become familiar with and learn the proper usage of many different items. Children are naturally curious and take interest in the daily activities adults take for granted. So, allowing your child to learn from what you are already doing is a great way to slingshot them into success as they mature.