Grooming children in all aspects is essential in their early childhood. The Montessori Method of education provides the perfect platform for the development of children physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. It focuses on the holistic development of children.
Learning grace and courtesy is one of the integral lessons in the Montessori curriculum. It begins in the primary classroom and continues through elementary school.
In Montessori schools, the belief is that young children are capable of much more than what you expect of them. We can bring out the best in them by grooming them by providing appropriate environments.
What are Grace and Courtesy?
Grace and courtesy are ways of introducing children to be polite and behave appropriately to communicate their feelings.
By practicing this, they respect themselves and others around them as self-esteem helps infuse selfless behavior. By learning to interact in society, they learn to find how they fit in the social structure.
The children understand that how they treat others is how they will be treated in return. It helps them to have a content life in society.
This lesson helps instill the natural need for order in children that helps them feel at ease in their environment. With grace and courtesy lessons, children develop vocabulary and actions to build awareness and acceptance of those around them.
Montessori believes that these lessons be extended outside the classroom to include courtesy in the form of community service. It can bring fulfillment to our existence as human beings.
To make children understand this relationship, they have to be cultivated with the lessons of grace and courtesy to prosper and grow throughout their lives. It also helps them be confident and find their position in their social structure.
When to begin lessons of Grace and Courtesy?
The primary class, when the child is three to four years old, is the perfect time to begin lessons in Grace and Courtesy. The child in this stage is not yet self-conscious.
The child is at ease to experiment and incorporate these lessons into everyday life. These lessons can begin at home when children are in their sensitive periods of 2.5 to 6 years and absorb everything in their surroundings efficiently. It prepares them before the primary class for formal lessons in the classroom.
1) Early childhood
This stage of development, known as the absorbent mind, includes the age from birth to six years.
Children develop language skills and life skills like cleaning up or eating themselves. The lessons focus on grooming their personality, encouraging independence, and building curiosity in academics.
Most of the Montessori curriculum includes practical behavior of adults towards them and towards one another.
These lessons are given to each child in a group and doing roleplays. It allows the child to have a clear understanding of grace and courtesy, and how he fits in a place to perfect himself with others.
Some lessons that can be part of early childhood are –
- Making the children participate in family mealtimes, events, and celebrations.
- Love and respect for others.
- Learning to politely greet and use phrases like “thank you” and “please”.
- How to express feelings, wants, and preferences.
- To be responsible.
- Ask for help or offer help.
The second stage of development is from six to twelve years old. It is the elementary classroom. The Grace and Courtesy lessons continue here with some changes in the environment.
Here, the lessons focus on group problem-solving and developing social skills through class meetings.
They can participate in basic chores of sweeping, cleaning, and greeting other children. These practical life skills will help them be selfless and keep the interest of others in mind.
The children in this group can think and reason for themselves and the development of their personalities.
Lessons on justice, right and wrong, and fairness can make children understand their place in society.
Some of these lessons are:
- How to treat guests at home.
- Encouraging children to communicate through phone calls.
- Waiting for their turn.
- Holding a conversation with friends.
- Practicing writing greeting cards and letters to friends and family.
It covers the age group of twelve to eighteen years. Adolescents look at the world with a broad view, from the school and the local community to society.
Lessons of Grace and Courtesy for them focus on developing emotional independence, and building self-confidence and self-esteem.
These children learn about civic duties and taking responsibility. With a higher level of self-direction, the students choose lessons that they believe to succeed in life with limited guidance.
Lessons of Grace and Courtesy for this stage include:
- Addressing a mistake and reconciling it.
- Expressing their opinions confidently but with politeness.
- Overcoming negative comments and peer pressure with grace.
- Resolving conflicts by identifying the consequences of actions.
- Fighting insecurities and embracing adulthood with grace.
This last plane of development comprises young adults, from ages eighteen to twenty-four years.
They aim to achieve financial independence and self-sufficiency. These young adults from Montessori backgrounds learn from adults either directly in college and university, or indirectly through simple life experiences.
These final lessons focus on sprucing up the grace and courtesy established in childhood into an adult’s personality.
Lessons of Grace and Courtesy help them to be thoughtful of everyone around them and help in their decision-making.
Lessons in the final plane of development focus on mature issues, such as sexuality and love, political and ethical responsibility, and participating in community service programs.
Grace and Courtesy lessons in Montessori
Montessori schools have classrooms of mixed age ranges in which the children choose activities of their interests and at their own pace.
They encourage children to learn practical life skills in simple ways, such as learning to organize their toys and activities on the shelves, so that their peers can use them, or help set and clear tables for meals.
By allowing the children to participate in their ways, Montessori teachers ensure that they develop the grace of that child’s natural impulse toward positive interaction. They are teaching them to be mindful of themselves and others in every aspect of life.
Children emulate adults, and their actions have a huge impact on them. Teachers explain grace and courtesy to young children through intentional modeling.
It is the process of behaving in front of children the way you want them to behave with others. Teachers model courtesies their students should mirror, being careful to perform acts like greeting someone or sharing their things.
They will keep their patience and poise intact without losing their cool even though it is difficult with a class full of children.
The teacher helps children understand that criticisms are essential and constructive for their development, and they can be wrong at times. The children learn to accept corrections with grace.
Adults in Montessori schools do not interrupt children in their activities. They exhibit respect for the child and apply the process of modeling wherever necessary. The children learn the importance of this and mirror the same behavior.
Role-play is an ideal tool for teaching grace and courtesy. By using toys, the teachers can make these lessons fun and encourage children to incorporate grace and courtesy into their daily lives.
Resolution of conflicts and disagreements
As children learn to communicate their feelings appropriately with grace and courtesy, they also develop social skills. The teacher guides the children using language expressing emotions, and the precise movements and steps required.
The child then fully absorbs how and when to use the vocabulary in his environment to make everyone feel good to navigate conflicts or treat friends well.
Teachers give concrete lessons to children on requesting help, solving disagreements through discussions with peers, and coming up with adequate resolutions. Children have a natural tendency to cry or get upset in difficult situations.
However, with lessons from these conversations, they will find it comforting and easier to solve a disagreement.
Teaching grace and courtesy can be challenging at times, and may require you to reassess your expectations when interacting with children. Imposing rules on children to obey without questioning defeats the purpose of independent learning, which is the core principle of Montessori.
Your approach towards them and what you expect from the children play an essential role here. The children are always quick to absorb information through observations and practical demonstrations.
Dr. Montessori believed that children are hope and promise for humanity. Lessons of Grace and Courtesy are part of this belief.
The goal of Grace and Courtesy in Montessori is to improve our society and environment. It starts with the appropriate grooming of our roots, our children.
The lessons they receive in Montessori will nurture their intrinsic desire to be gracious and courteous members of society. It, in turn, leads to compassionate and peaceful citizens in a peaceful society.