In Montessori, the pre-school class is typically referred to as the primary class. Two unique features of all Montessori classrooms are the multi-aged classrooms and the use of the word “work” to describe what the children are doing. The plural “works” is used to refer to the various activities in the classroom.
In the primary classroom, children from the age of 3 through kindergarten form the learning community. Primary classrooms have two main areas – the practical life area and the rug area. Typically, the practical life area has some sort of solid flooring to support work with water along with tables and chairs for works which also benefit from an easy to dry or sweep floor. The rug area supports sensorial, math, language, and cultural works with most work done on the floor using a small rug as a child’s individually defined work space.
The practical life area of the classroom is very important and is the foundation for all Montessori learning. It’s through practical life work that children learn to make work choices and complete the work cycle. The development of concentration and independence are the two main goals of practical life work, although such work can also help develop fine motor control and impulse control.
Dr. Montessori, out of respect for the joyful learning she saw happening within the classroom, called it the child’s “work.” Work is positive, empowering, meaningful, and joyful!