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Grace and Courtesy

The word “Grace” means “Elegance” or “Refinement of movement”. It also refers to


an attractively polite manner of behaving.

In a Montessori environment, grace is a natural by-product and ingrained in everyday


classroom activities thus enabling them to grow up to be well-mannered and polite.
Children in the age group of 3 – 6 years learn through demonstration of activities
broken down into simple steps that they can easily imitate. For example, introducing
children to their classroom and orchestrating how to enter the room, greet their
classmates and teachers, hang their coats; take their seats in an organized manner,
roll/unroll their mats etc. The best time to demonstrate these activities is at “circle
time” when the teacher has the attention of all the children in the classroom.
Nevertheless, the teacher can always pull up with individual children or smaller
groups as needed to demonstrate these activities.

The following are examples of activities where the concept of grace can be instilled in
a Montessori classroom:

A) Meets and Greets on first day of school


 Organize the children during circle time (Make them sit in a circle with
the teacher being part of it).
 Teacher greets the children and introduces herself in a slow, clear and
controlled manner and a soft voice. For example “Good morning
children, my name is Ms. Melanie.”
 Teacher then asks the children to introduce themselves in turn in a similar
manner. Other children are then asked to reciprocate. For example,
teacher smiles and asks the child sitting next to her “What is your name?
Can you tell the class”? When the child responds, “My name is Beth”,

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the teacher reciprocates “Hello Beth” by looking her in the eyes and asks
other children to imitate by saying, “Can we all say hello Beth”? Then she
asks the child sitting next to Beth to do the same. In this polite manner,
children are introduced to their teacher and to each other.

B) Raising hand to draw attention during group discussions.


 Organize the children as in circle time.
 Start by asking a simple question to which most children would know
the answer. For example “What animals will you see in a Zoo”? When
the children start to answer all at once, the teacher raises her hand in
the air in demonstration and announces “Please raise your hand like
this and wait for me to call your name out before answering”.
 When children eagerly raise their hands, the teacher gestures to one of
them, and says, “Let us all listen to what Alex has to say” and goes
around the class till each of the children who have raised their hands
get an opportunity to speak.
 In this manner, the children learn that they have to wait to be called out
before they can express their answer as opposed to yelling out
instinctively.
 If a particular child speaks out of turn, the teacher addresses that child
by reiterating in a firm, yet gentle manner, “Peter, if you would like to
answer, please raise your hand and wait for me to call out your name.
Thank you!”

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The word courtesy means, “being polite in attitude and behavior towards others”.

Grace and courtesy go hand-in-glove. Dr. Maria Montessori firmly believed that
imitation of polite and considerate behavior leads to an internalization of these
qualities into the personality. In a Montessori classroom, courtesy is not taught so
much as modeled, and practiced, at every level of interaction with the children. For
example, teachers demonstrate how to walk quietly and carefully around mats in the
classroom so as to not come in the way or disturb others, how to close the door quietly
etc. These lessons are kept brief and performed as dramatically as possible during
circle time.

The following are examples of activities where the concept of courtesy is


demonstrated in a Montessori classroom:

A) Opening and closing a door quietly


 Gather the children and organize them as in circle time.
 Teacher announces that she is going to demonstrate how to open and
close the door in such a way that it does not disturb the others in the
room.
 Teacher slowly walks up to the door slowly and demonstrates how to
turn the knob and open the door as quietly as possible and also how to
close the door as noiselessly as possible.
 She then calls out to a child and says “Marie, would you like to try this
now?”
 In this manner the children learn how to operate the door in a
courteous fashion

B) Demonstration of Table manners


 During circle time, the teacher announces that she is going to
demonstrate how to eat a snack and leave a clean table for later.
 The teacher sits at a chowki and slowly takes her snack out and places
it at the center of the chowki.
 The teacher carefully unfolds the napkin on her lap.

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 She then opens the snack box carefully and uses a spoon to
meticulously take the food to her mouth.
 She also demonstrates the chewing process with her mouth closed in
such a manner that there is no chewing sound heard outside.
 She makes sure she takes a pause between morsels.
 After the meal, she looks around for crumbs and demonstrates how
these can be cleared, by gently hand-sweeping them into the empty
snack box and shutting it.
 The teacher then slowly wipes her mouth with a napkin.
 She then puts away the snack box and napkin back into her bag.

The virtues of grace and courtesy can be imbibed into children at a very young age
when their minds are quick to absorb and grasp and they easily imitate role models in
their environment. Party manners, auditorium etiquette and social etiquette can all be
demonstrated at different times in various steps in a classroom involving the children
for sure impact.