The Montessori academic course of study in the lower elementary classroom revolves around the idea of Cosmic Education, or the idea that everything is connected and interdependent upon one another. Just as the universe is seen as a whole community, the lower elementary Montessori classroom is a community of learners which follow very clear ground rules that ensure the success and freedom of all students.
The mantra to “follow the child” is ingrained in the Montessori teacher. The Montessori environment is specially prepared with focus on the individual. Students have the freedom to move about the classroom, exploring and learning as their interest is piqued. Even so, individuals find themselves in the center of the Montessori community. To ensure success, Montessori teachers establish very clear ground rules.
Montessori Grace and Courtesy in Lower Elementary ClassroomsThough the rules may vary from school to school, they clearly spell out the need to treat others as you would like to be treated. In other words, they encourage children to be respectful of all creatures and all things.
While the rules may appear to be simple, the Montessori teacher does not assume that children automatically know what it means to be respectful. This is discussed and demonstrated in great detail in the Montessori classroom. The expectation is that through modeling and practice, children will learn to live and work together in peace and harmony. Montessori students are shown what it means to cooperate, how to be a friend, how to express anger in a positive way, and how to solve problems. The lessons in grace and courtesy provide a foundation on which to build and they set a tone of mutual respect and kindness.
Because children are emotional beings and learning to express themselves, the lessons in grace and courtesy also give Montessori students the tools they need to validate their feelings. When feelings are hurt, they are able to call upon what they've learned in these lessons to practice peaceful conflict resolution. Teachers and peers act as guides and mediators, modeling appropriate behavior and language. Over time, Montessori students become more adept and proficient at handling difficult social situations.
The ideas of justice and fairness are fundamental concerns of the elementary child. The culture in the Montessori environment is built upon caring, respect, and consideration for others. An important component of that is creating a diverse cultural, racial, and linguistic environment. We do this through the lessons of grace and courtesy as well as cultural geography. Children learn that all the people on earth have basic needs that must be met. Cultural differences are celebrated and the uniqueness of different culture, language, background, race, and religion is honored.
As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Children enjoy role-playing social situations and offering advice to the “actors”. Learning appropriate social behavior can also be achieved by hosting parent “teas”. Children can be encouraged to write invitations, greet guests, serve refreshments, and write thank you notes. There are ample opportunities to develop grace and courtesy in the elementary Montessori environment.
Lessons in Grace and Courtesy are found in the NAMC 6-9 Advanced Practical Life Manual. See also: Montessori Grace & Courtesy: Infants/Toddlers & Preschoolers
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, March 10, 2010.