What is the point of practical life?

When my infant first picked up a broom and started sweeping at 10 months old, I was slightly in awe. What was it about sweeping, that gave our son so much joy, when there are other, seemingly more interesting things to do around the house?
It’s not like he had seen me, being really excited about sweeping…

What I learned was that there are plenty of good reasons for it. Apart from the obvious, learning to sweep up their own crumbs, wash-up and cut their own apple, there are a number of wider skills that toddlers learn by taking part in daily household tasks


So or those of you who similarly might have a budding sweeper, washer-upper or window cleaner at home, here are some of the things they gain from practical life activities:

1. They feel like part of the family 

By working alongside you at home, they become to feel like a member of the family, who is positively contributing towards daily life. Even if in the beginning, when you feel like you are going backwards (as they can make more mess than they try to tidy up) by helping them to follow you in daily activities, it will make them feel valued and give a huge boost to their self-esteem.

NIDO TIP | To really boost their self-esteem, try not to interrupt them whilst they are in the middle of a task. Wait until they have completed it, and show them how to improve on their skills another time.


2 | Independence

As they learn to master everyday tasks, such as pouring their own drink, mopping up their spills and brushing their own hair, they will relish in the chance to take care of themselves and their home without your help, building upon their growing independence.


NIDO TIP | Help them complete tasks independently by keeping everything they need within reach, including a basket of cloths to mop up inevitable spills.

3 | Concentration 

This may not be the first skill we think of when talking about toddlers, but due to of the reward aspect of practical life activities, these tasks help them learn to focus on one task, and complete it to the end (or at least try to!), building on their concentration skills. Not only does this help them learn new things with greater ease, it also gives you 5 minutes to breathe, whilst they figure it out!

4 | Movement skills

Pouring, threading, sewing, dusting, all require small, careful movements, known as fine-motor skills. So these tasks not only help refine these practical life skills, but are also useful for developing pincer grip, wrist-flexibility, lightness of touch and hand-eye coordination that are also needed in other activities, such as writing later on.


5 | Skills for learning

Practical life activities, such as washing up to watering a plant, also help them learn to follow logical steps and sequence, make choices, problem-solve and make mistakes that are also needed when learning a wide range of topics later on, including maths and reading.

So whether or not your infant or toddler enjoys helping out with daily life tasks at the moment, or if they do suddenly decide that sweeping is their thing, try to embrace it, and know that there are many good reasons for it!

And if they do already love helping you at home, you can make it easier for them, by giving them toddler-sized tools from our Practical Life collection to practise with (which are much easier to handle than trying to learn with a regular-sized broom, trust me!)

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