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Practical Life At Home

Allowing the child to participate in Family Life through Practical Life Activities

All humans have the needs to communicate with others, to challenge themselves, contribute to society and feel that they are doing something important with their lives. These needs and desires are especially strong in the young child, the toddler, who has been observing all that is going on his environment and is now ready to act on these needs and desires.




Benefits of Practical Life

The ability to act upon and participate in daily life is known as the concept of practical life. The benefits to a child allowed to do real work with his s surroundings are many and assist the child in all areas of development. Practical life activities allow the child to become a participant within the community of the family, making him feel important and needed, which in turn creates confidence and a sense of pride within the child. These emphasize a sequence that is necessary to complete the task at hand. Practical life gives the child a firm base of reality and gives him the experience of the culture in which he lives. Most importantly, these activities foster independence by guiding, assisting and challenging the child to become and independently functioning human being.


Areas of Practical Life

There are three main areas of practical life. Care of the Person focuses on activities that involve the individual and include; dressing and undressing, brushing hair, and washing hands. Care of the environment involves the surrounding that the child lives in and focuses on activities that includes; mopping the floor, dusting the furniture, and watering the plants. Social Behavior/Grace and courtesy is the third area of practical life, and involves things as establishing pleasant relations and to show our regards and consideration for others.


Guidelines for the Environment

There are a few guidelines to consider when setting up an appropriate environment for your child that encourages the integration of practical life. It is a good idea to get down on your hands and knees to explore the environment at your child’s level. This perspective will provide a basis for changes or additions to your child’s environment. It is very important to keep your child’s environment consistent and ordered. Keep the objects on shelves minimal and rotate them as interests fade or change. Allow for the appreciation of beauty. For example, hang art or nature prints at your child’s level. When searching for materials for your child to use, make sure that they are fit to his size and are made of natural, durable materials.


Environmental Set Up and Activities of Practical Life

Following are ways of including practical life in each room of the home and involve the set up of the environment, as well as, the addition of appropriate activities.


The Child’s Bedroom

Place items of clothing, such as socks underwear and pajamas in low dresser drawers so that the child can help dress himself. Hang a low rod in the closet and hand a few outfits that the child can choose to wear. Have available a small laundry basket that the child can place dirty clothes in. A low bed, such as a futon can be provided so that the child can enter and leave independently. A few low shelves can be used for toys, activities and books, as well as a small table and chair for using them. A comfortable area with pillows or a beanbag can also be added.


The Child’s Bathroom

If possible, hang a mirror at the child’s level or provide a step stool to reach the existing mirror. In a low cabinet, items such as a brush, toothbrush, lotion and washcloths, can be made available. Hang a towel reach within the child’s reach.


The Living Room

It is important that all space in the home should be easily accessible to the child, so that they are comfortable in the family’s environment. All precious items should be kept high but beautiful and interesting objects should be at a level that the child can explore. A low shelf for the child sized chair is another piece of furniture that can be placed in the family room.


The Kitchen

In low cabinet, have placemats, plates cups and silverware so that the child can participate in setting the table. Washcloths for cleaning themselves after meals, and sponges for general clean-ups can be made accessible. Provide a stool at the sink so the child can access water, not only for drinking but also for washing dishes. The child can also help load and unload the dishwasher. A stool can also be used to help prepare food. During meal times, it is important that the child sits at the table with the family. This will allow him to be fully involved in the meal: to help serve and pass food, and to be a part of the conversation.


Entry Way

A low rod, or hooks for the child’s coat will allow him to help himself. Baskets that include seasonal items that the child uses can be places in this area. Include a small shelf for the child’s shoes and boots. A small bench can help the child accomplish these activities.


Cleaning Supplies

Whether the cleaning supplies are in a closet or a cabinet, and area can be made for the child. On a low shelf place cloths for dusting, a spray bottle and squeegee for cleaning windows, and small sponges for wiping tables. A dustpan and broom can also be places in this area.


The Outdoor Area

There are many ways that the child can help to care for the outdoor environment. A child sized rake and broom can be used tor the lawn, sidewalk and driveway. A watering can and small garden tools will allow the child to care for potted plants and flowers.


Summary

Allowing your child to truly live in his environment is to give him all that he needs to develop himself as an individual – practical life allows for this. Your child will develop a healthy sense of himself and his abilities, leading to feeling of “I can do it!” and “ I can do it myself!” What a healthy foundation to build upon. Involving the child in daily life is the greatest gift that a parent can give a child.

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