The daily greeting between a Montessori preschooler and teacher is a special moment. It is a key transition of the day and must be carried out with respect, care and consistency. The initial greeting can often set the tone for the day ahead, therefore, it is important to make the initial greeting a joyful one so that the child feels welcomed, and respected. Upon the daily departure a similar routine should occur and again; each Montessori student should feel genuinely cared for and know that you will be looking forward to seeing him/her again.
Some children are very responsive to the daily greeting while others are shy and more reserved. I find role-playing during circle time is a great way to reinforce respectful greetings and handshake routines. My Montessori students really enjoy it when I choose one of them to be the teacher and they take their role very seriously. The “Montessori teacher” stands at the door while the rest of the children line up outside the door and demonstrate a proper greeting one by one.
I usually make a comment after each greeting to reinforce the desired behavior. For example, “Ben, it is nice to see that you remembered to look in the teacher’s eyes” or “Dima, thank you for remembering your walking feet when you came into the classroom” or “ Gemma, you waited so patiently in the line for your turn to shake hands - that is a very respectful thing to do”. Role-playing is such an effective strategy for reinforcing rules and routines as well as important grace and courtesy lessons.
The daily greeting is such a nice way to start the day as well as bring closure to a school day, and below is a general presentation detailing how to do it.
The Daily Greeting: A Respectful Routine for Your Montessori ClassroomInitial greeting:
- Lower yourself to the student’s height and attain eye contact
- Extend your hand with a warm smile, and be sure to maintain eye contact
- As you shake hands, verbally welcome the student and exchange some sort of dialogue. For example, “Good morning, Johnny. It is so nice to see you this morning. How are you today?”
- The child should be encouraged, but never forced to respond positively. For example, “I’m fine, Teacher Bree. How are you, today?”
- Be sure to respond to the child and thank him for asking. For example, “I’m very well, today Johnny. Thank-you for asking.”
- Lower yourself to the child’s level and attain eye contact
- Extend your hand, shake hands and be sure to say something positive about the day. For example, “Goodbye Johnny. Thank-you for being such a good friend to Haika today. It was so nice that you helped her reassemble her continent map. Have a great day and I will see you on Tuesday.”