Areas of Practical Life
The preliminary movements or exercises
- aid orientation to the environment, providing immediate functional independence
- provide introductions to the aiding of smooth efficient functioning
- first begun during phasing-in and are continued as long as needed for the child to acclimate to the environment and remind him of the proper procedures in the room
- not complete activities in and of themselves, but are basic aids to more complex activities.
- Examples include such things as rolling a mat, folding napkins, putting down a chair, how to walk in the casa, and how to carry and set down various items.
Care of self
- help the child toward functional independence not only in caring for himself, but later in caring for the environment and other persons in it.
- build self-respect, confidence and true self-esteem
- two levels of activity in care of self: the first level fulfills the inner need of the child and the second level responds to needs in the environment. There is great repetition at the first level and greater external action in the second level.
- The child at first must be quite egocentric in order to build himself up and will spend a great amount of time with repetitive individual work in washing his own hands, polishing shoes, using the dressing frames, and others, regardless of the any actual need for these tasks to be completed (i.e. the shoes are already polished but he polishes them anyway). As the child constructs himself and becomes competent at these skills, he will move on to fulfilling perceived needs of himself and others, new activities and eventually show others how to do these tasks (i.e. washing his hands when dirty or showing another child with dirty hands how to wash).
Care of the environment
- build respect for the environment
- allow the child to participate in caring for the collective community since the establishment and maintenance of beauty and order are collective tasks: each child is responsible for the care of the environment.
- Again, the child functions at two levels in the care of the environment: first doing a task to satisfy the inner tendencies, later fulfilling external needs of self and the environment.
Lessons in grace and courtesy
- begin on the first day and continue throughout the child’s years in the casa.
- specifically focused on developing social skills and how to act harmoniously with others.
- The children are given skills to show respect for others, provided words to communicate in specific situations and they learn to control their behavior in specific and general situations, leading to a strong sense of self-dignity. Lessons are given in meeting a new person, introducing friends, blowing one’s nose or sneezing, and how to walk around a mat, as some examples.
Control of movement
- walking on the line and the silence activity.
- Walking on the line begins very early and should be done several times a week to aid in the process of normalization.
- The silence activity is done later as it requires a certain level of normalization (any few children not yet ready can go for a nature walk with an assistant during this time).
- Walking on the line is a point of departure towards normalization, while the silence activity is a point of arrival.
Visual art skills
- focuses on providing keys to visual through exposure to basic art skills exploring the elements of art.
- Activities provided could include cutting with scissors, basic sewing skills, color and media exploration, and others.