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Grace and Courtesy: How it serves our Community and Society
Grace & Courtesy
And how it serves our Community and Society
By Charles Terranova
"An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure." -Benjamin Franklin
In order to free oneself from adult intervention the child must learn the ways of society, and how people function together as a group. Grace and Courtesy, a principle we adhere to in Montessori education, is the lubricant that keeps a group of people functioning smoothly. It is the ambiance parents can create in the home and the teacher creates in the classroom. It is a general attitude of graciousness and respect.
From an early age, even when they lack neurological and physical control our children are watching and taking in our behaviors. If we are tense and have our teeth clenched while we try to help a child calm down, they are going to feel the tension and have a harder time calming down. We can learn to take a deep breath when our children are having meltdowns and help them regain control. Especially when they are very little, when we help babies and toddlers calm down, they are establishing the neurological connections to self-regulation.
Many studies tell us that the roots of violence lie in the inability to self-regulate. The inability to self regulate is a serial condition of our time.
We can only create it when first we model it with our own actions, and then with good-natured lessons, we demonstrate the way we do things in our class, or in our home. We want our children to be helpful. So how do we teach that? Be helpful, go out of your way to help a sick neighbor or a grandparent that needs some assistance. We want our children to be respectful. How do we teach it? Be respectful of everyone. The only way our children learn to behave is by observing and modeling it. Many mini-lessons take place in the Montessori class on a regular basis that help children see through role-playing how we become a contributing member of our society (our community in Children’s House terms).
Toddlers practicing yoga in the Pink Room
Grace and Courtesy includes many things, from care of the self and care of the environment to learning the kind and gracious way to handle all manner of situations.
A Toddler assists in cleaning his environment
We care for one another’s needs and we help one another learn new activities. We have the greatest effect when we show children the way to function in society rather than scolding them when they do not respect the rules and confusing the issue with embarrassment, fear and insult.
"An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure."
When we see our children not functioning in the ways we wish, in many cases we simply represent the behavior that we want, without shame or blame. Through this process of blameless emphasis on doing what is right and appropriate, children feel a sense of self-control and joy in knowing what to do in so many situations with children and other adults. The result: autonomy, self-regulation and self-control. Now the business of learning is joyful and unimpeded!
“A prepared environment in which the child, set free from adult intervention, can live a life according to the laws of its development. It is a place of spontaneous work, where the child is allowed to perfect himself using the environment as a means.” -Dr. Maria Montessori