In Montessori, we call this Grace and Courtesy

There are many lessons in the Montessori classroom but the lessons in manners are a priority of the smooth learning that takes place.

GraceAndCourtesyGirlsOne of the first lessons is movement. How do the children and teachers move so as not to disturb others? When watching a Montessori classroom during the work period it often resembles a ballet. Children and adults move about carefully and purposefully as the select activities, sit for a group lesson or socialize with friends as they go about the learning process.

Many lessons are given by example as well as roll playing so that the young children absorb kindness and manners toward each other and the adults in the environment. My support teacher and I often set up little skits at group time to demonstrate a particular polite behavior, like holding the door for another. I would come in the door with my co-teacher close behind and ignoring her presence let the door shut in front of her. My friend would look perplexed as she opens the door to enter. The children watch in fascination. I would ask them for their observation. Some of the older students, of course, know the answer, “What is the polite and friendly thing to do?” We try it again. I enter with my friend behind me, step aside and hold the door for her. We have a wonderful discussion about the situation and the children often come up with other ideas of how to treat others with care and gentleness. The question might come up; “Does it have to be a friend or can I do this for a stranger?”

“Everyday kindness and courtesy are vital practical life skills. Lessons in Grace and Courtesy teach everyday social customs, such as how to enter a room, not to disturb another’s work, how to ask if you may join in an activity and how to graciously decline an invitation, table manners, and how to offer an apology.

We must help the child to act for himself, will for himself, think for himself; this is the art of those who aspire to serve the spirit. It is the teacher's joy to welcome the manifestation of the spirit."  - Maria Montessori

Here is a quick list of additional ways where these lifelong skills are practiced:

  • Greeting new and old friends
  • How to listen and wait for your turn to speak after others finish speaking
  • Learning to ask for help in a courteous manner
  • Giving comfort to another person in an appropriate manner
  • How to wait patiently and respectfully for an activity to be completed

"We must teach the children the elements of social behavior ... In this way, these little people who, before, only knew vaguely and half consciously what to do in any particular social situation, now have a clear and vivid idea how to react when the particular occasion arises. ... The essential thing is that he should know how to perform these actions of courtesy when his little heart prompts him to do so, as part of a social life which develops naturally from moment to moment."
—E.M. Standing, Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work

Of course we also practice, thank you, please, excuse me, and may I help you, etc. When you are observing our Montessori classroom you will be greeted by a child who puts out his or her hand for a handshake, says, “Welcome to our classroom, my name is Mary.” This is helping your youngster develop confidence and in this way, they gradually build the social skills of a polite society.

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