In a Montessori classroom, we include Grace and Courtesy lessons that help the children learn how to take care of their environment and how to treat others. Children learn how to walk through the classroom environment without bumping into tables or classmates. They learn how to handle breakable objects and treat them with care so that they don’t break. You may have seen your child or a picture of a toddler holding a glass vase and wondered how the heck do they learn to do that? Most people would be afraid to hand a toddler a glass dish or cup but a Montessori child who’s learning about Grace and Courtesy is used to it and knows how to react.
How can you model Grace and Courtesy lessons at home?
Be very intentional in your behavior and actions. Remember that your child is like a little sponge, they soak up everything you do. Show them the same courtesy and respect that you want them to show to you and others. Ask them to help with things. Don’t demand, don’t require but rather, ask. They’re going to want to help you. Most young children love to feel like they can help.
Say please and thank you regularly. Remember to thank your children and spouse for the small things they do each day. If your child does something special or sweet, take a moment to thank them, comment about what they’ve done, give them a hug, whatever feels right at that moment. There isn’t one right answer.
Use indoor voices when speaking to the family. Try not to yell. It can be a challenge but try to maintain a calm, steady voice, even when upset. This can help the child learn how to deal with their emotions in a positive manner.
Teach them to cover their mouth when they cough. If they’re doing it on their own already, comment about what a great job they’re doing covering their cough. Kids like to know they’re doing things well and a little positive reinforcement can go a long way.
If your family prays, ask the child to participate in the prayer or have them lead a pre-meal thank you. Whatever feels comfortable to your family. Model good table manners and help your children learn how to sit properly, how to hold their silverware, what’s OK to eat with their hands and what’s not, how to hold a cup so that it doesn’t slip, etc.
Focus on treating your child how you’d like to be treated and you will naturally model Grace and Courtesy. Lead by example, and your child will follow.