Students new to Montessori preschool spend much time in the Practical Life area of the classroom, where shelves are filled with activities for dressing, food preparation, sweeping, polishing, and so on. In a variety of ways, Practical Life activities provide the preschool child with skills for self-care, caring for the classroom environment, and all-around independence.
This independence is a critical aspect of a Montessori preschool education. As Dr. Montessori wrote:
If teaching is to be effective with young children, it must assist them to advance on the way to independence. It must initiate them into those kinds of activities which they can perform themselves and which keep them from being a burden to others because of their inabilities. We must help them to learn how to walk without assistance, to run, to go up and down stairs, to pick up fallen objects, to dress and undress, to wash themselves, to express their needs in a way that is clearly understood, and to attempt to satisfy their desires through their own efforts. All this is part of an education for independence.
Dr. Maria Montessori