Manners are defined as “ways of behaving with reference to polite standards.” But where and how do children learn and acquire manners? Of course, one of the best ways to teach manners is with our own actions. How we treat each other with our interactions in public and private, how we solve problems, and how we treat our children demonstrates what we believe and value.
The problem, however, is that many grown-ups have forgotten, or perhaps were never taught, the value of having good manners. I would imagine that many of us have experienced much frustration with our society’s general disregard for good manners. The problem is so prevalent that this week, the “Today Show” aired a special daily segment on manners. Through the magic of the internet, I listened to the horror stories and endless accounts of how we have forgotten to how to behave with civility and kindness toward one another. Some examples in the story included talking loudly on cell phones in public spaces, littering, not looking at people when we speak to them or when we are spoken to, and texting while in the company of others. My thoughts then turned to the Montessori classroom, where ideally, peace, grace, and courtesy prevail.
Born in 1870, Dr. Maria Montessori became Italy’s first woman physician. She devoted her life to observing how children learn best and created her own beautiful schools, inviting materials, and a profound philosophy for education. Today, Dr. Montessori is a respected educator and celebrated peacemaker worldwide. Her philosophy focuses on the education and development of the whole child. This includes daily lessons and practice in grace and courtesy toward each other. Some of lessons we provide in grace and courtesy in the Montessori classroom include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Giving eye contact
- One person speaks at a time
- Making requests, instead of demands (Would you be willing to…?)
- Practice giving and receiving compliments
- Saying please and thank you
- Holding the door and gate for one another
- Waiting turns in line patiently
- Asking someone permission before helping, rather than assuming they cannot do it
- Coughing into the arm
- Introducing self and practicing greetings
- Answering the telephone
- Frequent hand washing
- Working quietly
- Maintenance of our classroom and outdoor environment
- Picking up litter around school grounds
- Stopping the game at recess when someone falls down and offering help up
- Loading the school bus back to front and unloading from front to back
- How to carry a chair safely
- How to sit properly in a theater
- The importance of being quiet at the theater during a live performance
- Being respectful of nature
- Being respectful of ourselves and others
- Table manners
- How to join in a game
- How to include someone in a game
- How to follow the rules in a game
- How to take turns
- Helping someone when they are hurt
- Understanding and respecting that different cultures have different traditions and customs
- Understanding and respecting that some guidelines for manners have changed over time within our society, but that being polite, kind, helpful, respectful, and courteous is always in everyone’s best interest!
Enjoy using this as a stepping stone to add more to the list of what you value and wish to pass on to your children! Thank you!
For more information on the Montessori Method, please click here.