"Please" and "Thank-you": Why Grace and Courtesy Matters

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      The age old adage that "children learn what they live" is truly applicable in the Primary environment.  It goes without saying that it applies in the home environment as well.  After all, parents are the child's first teacher.  As we live and work together with children, we realize how important it is that we are mindful of our words and actions.  Our role with children this age (birth to six), is to model the behavior we want them to have and help them develop that sense of social responsibility that is necessary in order for there to be harmony--both within and without.  "Please" and "thank-you", and other such words and phrases, are crucial keys to aid the child in this stage of development.  If we want our children to become empathetic, compassionate, harmonious adults, then we have to start them on that journey from birth.
Photo courtesy of:
https://beautifulsunmontessori.blogspot.com
       That’s why it’s important, when we greet the children in the mornings, to make sure that they make eye contact and respond appropriately.  It’s not okay for them to just walk off or not look at the person who is addressing them.  We have to take the time to teach them how to greet someone when they encounter them for the first time during their day; how to give a handshake; how to say goodbye; how to offer help; how to receive help; when to say please and thank- you and you’re welcome.  If we don’t teach them these things now, when and where will they learn them?  I just read an article entitled “Our kids Are Losing Their Empathy & Technology Has A Lot to Do With It” published in the online magazine Medium.  You can find it here: https://medium.com/@alonshwartz  As the author writes in his article, citing a study done by the University of Michigan, “…Borba and other experts say empathy may be the single most important skill for young adults to learn to thrive and get ahead in the 21st century.”
Photo courtesy of:
https://www.mssyr.org/curriculum/preschool-kindergarten/practical-life-pk/
       The Montessori prepared environments are great places for children to not only learn these important social graces, but also practice them on a daily basis.  Throughout the day, there are
 numerous opportunities for us to practice, some of which are: preparing snack for the classroom; offering to help someone with a task; politely refusing an offer of help if it is not needed; holding the door open for someone, and countless others.  The whole environment was designed to offer these wonderful opportunities for the children to learn how to communicate and practice being empathetic.  As guides, our role is to help guide the children, through our Grace and Courtesy lessons, to the point where they achieve true grace--harmony between mind and body-- and true courtesy--establishing and maintaining social relationships.  As parents, we are our child’s first entrée into the world of grace and courtesy, teaching them through our words and actions.  Taking the time now, to teach our children these graces and courtesies will lay a solid foundation for their future.


Rhonda Lucas-Sabater is an AMI trained Primary (3-6 years old) guide.  She is the mother of five Montessori children and the co-founder of a public charter Montessori school in Washington, DC.  She is also AMI trained at the Assistants to Infancy (O-3) and Elementary (6-12) levels and is an AMI certified Adolescent guide.


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