Exercises of Practical Life 121
to help and to direct the growth of children in such an important period of development as that from three to six years of age.
The " Children's House " is a garden of child culture, and we most certainly do not keep the children for so many hours in school with the idea of making students of them!
The first step which we must take in our method is to call to the pupil. We call now to his attention, now to his interior life, now to the life he leads with others. Making a comparison which must not be taken in a literal sense,— it is necessary to proceed as in experimental psychology or anthropology when one makes an experiment,— that is, after having prepared the instrument (to which in this case the environment may correspond) we prepare the subject. Considering the method as a whole, we must begin our work by preparing the child for the forms of social life, and we must attract his attention to these forms.
In the schedule which we outlined when we established the first " Children's House," but which we have never followed entirely, (a sign that a schedule in which the material is distributed in arbitrary fashion is not adapted to the regime of liberty) we begin the day with a series of exercises of practical life, and I must confess that these exercises were the only part of the programme which proved thoroughly stationary. These exercises were such a success that they formed the beginning of the day in all of the " Children's Houses." First: