The full cycle of activity should be presented to the child and the child will practice this cycle:
- beginning by gathering all the appropriate materials,
- then doing the activity itself and
- ending by putting away and cleaning up the materials and the work area.
Another key concept, along with the movement from simple to complex, is the indirect preparation for other work, such as:
- the refinement of muscular skills for use in writing, as well as
- development of the pincer grasp,
- muscular memory,
- movement from left to right and top to bottom, and
- development of the mathematical mind.
The long-term results working with the exercises of practical life are largely social ones, outside of the direct/immediate aims of providing skills for care of self and the environment.
- The children use real objects and come to understand the products of society as well as his own and others’ customs and social habits, assisting in his process of adaptation.
- He develops a non-sexist perspective – this work is for everyone.
- He develops problem-solving skills, learning to organize materials and breaking down the work process into manageable parts.
- He creates a cycle of activity, internalizing the value of following through on commitments, promises and decisions and the value in finishing things: in the end result.
- He discovers comfort and ease in social situations not only from the direct lessons on grace and courtesy but in the natural social situations he finds himself in as he begins his work in the casa, waits his turn for desired materials, asks for help from the adult and from other children.
- He listens for instructions, a skill necessary later in life for all sorts of purposes.
- He comes to care for his environment, seeking out ways to improve upon it when necessary.
- He develops poise and grace, the ability to work alone, a good attitude towards work, working for his own satisfaction rather than to please an outer source.
- He does not see these activities as menial but important, even later in life.
- He develops strong work habits in planning, follow-through, completion and preparation for the next child to work, a preparation for future work of academic or financial sorts.
- He also develops trust in the adult, that the adult will show him something worthwhile.
“These things (graceful movements, analysis and economy of movement, etc.) may seem to be complicated and difficult to teach, but there is an age when movements possess a fascinating interest, when muscles and nerves respond to exercise, and when a person acquires those habits which will mark him in future life as a cultured or uncultured individual. And this is the period of childhood.”
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