Grace and courtesy is a pervasive curriculum area in the classroom. You won’t find these exercises exclusively placed on a shelf. Grace and courtesy is present the moment a child greets his or her peers and teachers in the morning, shakes hands upon entering the classroom, interacts with others throughout the work period, during conversations, while sharing meals in the classroom community, while tidying up, during playtime, and when bidding farewell to peers and teachers at the culmination of the day.
At this early stage of development, children are not only developing themselves within, they are also determining their place in society. They want to know how to react appropriately to various situations. In the Montessori classroom, we are constantly providing children with the tools to handle various day to day situations and conduct themselves in a gracious and courteous manner. Children are also provided ample opportunities to practice these habits on a day to day basis. For it is not only through speaking to a child that the child learns, it is through action.
“What is social life if not the solving of social problems, behaving properly and pursuing aims acceptable to all? [It is not] sitting side by side and hearing someone else talk…”
– Dr. Maria Montessori, page 225, The Absorbent Mind
Children in the casa classrooms know how to tidy up after themselves and are provided the tools to do so, for example:
- sponging up spills,
- sweeping up after themselves,
- rolling up work mats,
- tucking in chairs, and
- replacing materials on the shelf so that it is ready for the next child to use.
Children know that respect is a consistent expectation of all within the environment, for example:
- eye contact when speaking to others,
- do not interrupt others / waiting patiently and interrupting politely,
- waiting for his or her turn to speak,
- waiting for his or her turn in line,
- respect one another’s work spaces, and
- keeping the environment neat and tidy for the benefit of all.
If a child causes others to be upset, the appropriate responses are role-modelled and provided so children may learn to handle similar situations in the future. Some examples:
- “Are you okay?”
- “I’m sorry that I…”
- “Next time, I will…”
- “Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?”
- “May I help you?”
“…we must begin our work by preparing the child for the forms of social life, and we must attract his attention to these forms.”
-Dr. Maria Montessori, page 121, The Montessori Method
Grace and Courtesy at Home
Here are a few gracious and courteous habits to reinforce at home: