Learning grace and courtesy at preschool
'Wow!' is what we often hear when visitors come to our preschool. The common comment is: “How 'civilised' it is in the classroom!” “How the teachers and children seem to get along so well, showing respect for each other and the environment!”
There's no magic to this. It just takes time, gentle patience and role modelling. Learning how to interact socially begins at birth. From the beginning of life the child is picking up social cues from the people around them whilst participating in everyday family life. The child is absorbing language, attitudes, manners and values. By developing a strong sense of cultural awareness, children learn to live with dignity, respect and politeness towards themselves and others.
In our Montessori East preschool environments we offer lessons in Grace and Courtesy. These may include:
How to greet someone
How to blow your nose
How to wait if you need to speak with someone who is busy
How to walk in the classroom
How to ask for help
How to accept an invitation
How to offer assistance
How to wait your turn
These lessons aid the development of positive interpersonal skills and the children have the opportunity to practice these many times a day.
At home it is also necessary sometimes to ‘teach’ these skills and it is vitally important that the adults be consistent in role modelling appropriate and acceptable behaviours. These may include:
How to sit quietly at the theatre or cinema
How to wait in line
How to talk at the dinner table
How to ride a scooter on the footpath
What to say when someone offers a compliment
How to greet an elderly person
How to sit in a restaurant/café
How to interrupt someone who is talking on the phone.
The opportunities are endless.
Using clear language and modelling grace and courtesy provides structure so the child can know his/her place in the world.
“The Family Virtues Guide” by Linda Kavelin Popov. This is an excellent book we use in the classrooms.