The Importance of Grace & Courtesy
From Our Newsletter: Talitha's Corner
As Doctor Maria Montessori states: “A child who becomes a master of (their) acts through repeated exercises of grace and courtesy, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which (they) have been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy, and remarkable for (their) calmness and discipline.”
What do we mean by Grace and Courtesy in the Montessori classroom?
The Grace and Courtesy Lessons are the foundation of the Montessori classroom and one of the 3 cornerstones of the HHMS program in addition to Potty Learning and Peace Education.
There are countless ways we practice Grace and Courtesy throughout the day, whether it’s a morning greeting with eye contact or words, how we move in the classroom, how we ask questions or how we get through disagreements with self-confidence and assuredness. In short, Grace is the ability to use a person’s will to show comfort and respect toward themselves and Courtesy is how a person shows that same grace and respect toward others.
The Montessori Guide is always doing their best to model Grace and Courtesy in the classroom and each person is working on it in their own special way. Acknowledgement and re-direction are important aspects of the Grace and Courtesy lessons. When a child is arriving at school we will model how to greet someone by saying “hello” or “Good morning” and giving eye contact to the student and the parent and we want the child to do the same in their own time. When we notice behaviors that are desirable we might show acknowledgement by saying something like, “thank you for helping your friend”, or “I noticed how much you focused on your work and that you are feeling proud of yourself!” or “thank you for using your walking feet in the classroom”. When we notice a behavior that is undesirable like running in the classroom we may say, “Please use your walking feet” or see if they need help to walk in the classroom (by holding hands with the teacher). If we have a child who hits time and time again, we will often have that child notice the face of the other child so they can get a sense of the child’s feelings, we will ask the child to use gentle hands with their friends or ask us for help. If the child needs extra care we will have that child sit with us or be on hand holding until they feel ready to return to the group. The Grace and Courtesy lessons are a consistent strategy that we must do as many times as necessary throughout the day to help reinforce or shift the behavior.
Some lessons we have introduced this year are:
How to greet someone
How to welcome someone into your home
How to introduce family, friends, and acquaintances
How to actively listen during a conversation
How to get the teacher’s attention without interrupting the whole class
How to observe someone else’s work without interrupting
How to be polite or use please and thank you
How to follow directions
How to resolve a disagreement
How to do kind things for others, such as holding open doors
In closing, the Grace and Courtesy lessons are the first thing we focus on at the start of school and then reinforce all year long. These lessons not only help us create harmony in our classroom environment, but are important life skills for each person to develop and refine through out their life. When we see children at the end of the year who are showing great progress in the Grace and Courtesy lessons, we remember that Maria Montessori said “the children are now operating as if we (teacher) didn’t exist.”
How do you practice Grace and Courtesy at home? Try incorporating one of the above mentioned lessons, or if you are already practicing at home, let us know how it's going! We’re here for you if you have questions, want to know more about Grace and Courtesy in the home, need some support, please feel free to schedule a session as part of the parent fund to which you contributed.