Grace And Courtesy in A Montessori Classroom
Walking into a Montessori school, you may notice that class sizes are larger than in traditional preschools, but noise levels are lower. At their worktables or on woven rugs, children may be seen working independently or with their peers. They may be moving around the classroom and even using their voices but are unlikely to run or call out for a friend from one end of the classroom to another. Is this to say that children in Montessori classrooms are always strictly disciplined? Are they not the typical children who want to run, play, and even make a lot of noise?
The answer to these questions lies in the ‘Grace and Courtesy’ lessons presented to the children.
What Are Grace and Courtesy Lessons?
While grace refers to the child's ability to use their will to show comfort and respect to themselves, courtesy is demonstrating those same qualities to others. Between the ages of 3 and 6 years, children begin to develop social skills, becoming more sensitive to social interactions with their peers and adults and more receptive to the world around them. It is during this “sensitive period” that the importance of Grace and Courtesy becomes much more pronounced. Grace and Courtesy exercises help children with the awareness of how their behavior affects others.
Whether it is greeting others, asking questions, or handling disagreements gracefully, Grace and Courtesy lessons teach the children what it means to be polite and how to appropriately communicate his or her feelings.
“A child who becomes a master of his acts through repeated exercises of grace
and courtesy, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting
activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy
and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.” – Maria Montessori
Modeling Grace and Courtesy
Grace and Courtesy lessons in a Montessori classroom begin with modeling. When children are expected to be polite, calm, and to communicate their feelings appropriately, the teachers themselves need to model these behaviors. Hence, teachers in a Montessori classroom are aware of how they interact and behave around children. Using soft, inside voices, greeting the children as they enter the classroom, as well as not disrupting them during their work are just some examples of how teachers act as role models for their students.
Grace And Courtesy Lessons
Grace and Courtesy lessons are often presented during circle time, and the children enjoy taking turns demonstrating the learned etiquette. Teachers also present lessons in a step-by-step manner to small groups of 3-4 children, and then have them role play.
Some of the Grace and Courtesy lessons presented are:
- How to greet a friend or an adult
- How to welcome a visitor
- How to open/close doors
- How to ask a question
- How to be polite
- How to follow directions
- How to resolve conflicts
- How to walk in the classroom
- How to actively listen to others during a conversation
- How to observe a peer’s work without interrupting
- How to wait patiently for their turn
Learning these lessons help children understand that the classroom is an environment dedicated to learning and concentration. The added benefit of Grace and Courtesy lessons is that children exhibit them outside of school and parents are amazed to see the learned behavior repeated at home. Even at a young age, children are developing communication skills and self-control which will serve them their entire lives. It is important that children learn lessons that will help them lead a more fulfilling and happy life. The Grace and Courtesy lessons aim to do just that.
Take a tour of Villa Montessori at Leesburg and experience Grace and Courtesy for yourself.