These two areas of the classroom are the foundations for all future success in learning. This is where we establish how work is done in the classroom. Children learn that work is done on a table or individual rugs and that materials move from left to right to prepare the eye for reading.
The practical life activities are designed to teach a variety of skills that help the children function in their own environment. The pouring of beans or water, serving snack, transferring rice or beads with tweezers, or carrying trays of equipment—all involve precise movements of the hand and body, leading to coordination of sight and muscle control and the child's development of concentration. These works build a great sense of confidence within the child. For a 4-year old to be able to say “I zipped my own jacket,” is a monumental accomplishment. The practical life works are vital because they instill a sense of independence and self-confidence.
These exercises also develop an understanding of the process and order involved in a complete cycle of activity with a beginning, middle, and end. These developed skills help to establish a foundation for the child's later work with more complex math and reading materials.
The sensory materials further expand the child's foundation for more complex work. The pink tower, geometric shapes, sound cylinders, metal insets, and the cylinder blocks to name a few, develop perceptual abilities, visual and auditory discrimination, and the ability to compare and classify: all powers necessary for work in reading and math.
These materials, and the beginning math and reading exercises, are where we begin with all our students.