We briefly discussed Grace and Courtesy in the Montessori classroom in a blog post about making coffee for the adults in the classroom (whether they are the regular grown-ups or special visitors); here, we will discuss the subject a bit more in depth, including defining “Grace and Courtesy,” as well as its significance in a child’s development, below.
Grace and Courtesy in a Montessori classroom refers to those expressions of hospitality, respect, and appropriate communication children extend to their peers and any others with whom they come into contact. In short, Grace and Courtesy introduces children to the social and communal aspects of life: how to interact with others in a respectful way, how to be a good friend, and how to interact with others in the world. This carries on outside of the classroom into real-world situations, and will serve the child well beyond childhood and into adulthood.
Upon a recent visit to P1, I was approached and politely asked if I cared for some tea. Of course, I happily accepted the offer, and took the opportunity to document the process with permission from the child. He asked me which type of tea I preferred, then set to work making me a cup.
It is a long process, requiring lots of patience on the eager child’s part. He showed determination and careful attention to the process.
Grace and Courtesy starts with the most basic greetings, which you can observe every morning when you drop off your child at her classroom. You will notice the Guide bending down to your child’s eye level, making careful eye contact, and holding out her hand for your child to shake. She will greet your child with a cheerful “Good morning,” and wait for your child to return eye contact and reciprocate a greeting. This modeling of a basic greeting may seem simple, but it has lasting and wide-reaching effects; children begin to greet neighbors, friends, and strangers in this way.
Grace and Courtesy is also a wonderful practice in self-love. By learning to respect and show kindness to others, they also learn that they themselves deserve respect and kindness from others. Additionally, when we are kind and generous to others, it makes us feel good about ourselves!
One more wonderful thing to be grateful for in the Montessori classroom. Thank you for the tea, and the lesson in Grace and Courtesy!