When considering education and schooling, we often think about what tasks our child will be learning, such as math proficiency and using correct grammar. Although those things are essential, your child’s character traits are what will carry them through life with ease. (Like grace and courtesy.)
Grace and Courtesy
Principles such as being kind and treating others with respect are of the utmost importance and will leave a lasting impression on those they encounter. As a parent, knowing how to teach grace and courtesy goes beyond the classroom into daily life, and here is how to instill these traits into your children.
Know the Reasoning Behind this Montessori Principle
Everyone should be respectful and polite, but for Maria Montessori, it was an essential part of her teaching. These attributes give a child a sense of order while realizing their place when interacting with other people. Instilling these principles happens from a very young age, even before children can talk.
As a child grows, they learn to mimic the actions of adults. Demonstrating respect, along with having specific lessons on these topics, guides the children towards becoming more friendly.
Knowing how to teach grace and courtesy from the start is helpful to a parent and is dovetailed within the Montessori classroom.
Teach by Modeling Respectful Habits
Children learn through modeling at a very young age. Infants will mirror the actions and sounds of their parents and others. Whether playing with your children or doing the most straightforward task, such as diapering or feeding, it is vital to show them that they deserve loving treatment.
A youth dealt with in a way that shows them respect is much more likely to learn and model grace and courtesy. And, yes, this applies to discipline. They will play well with other children, exhibit kindness, and also be more obedient. Teaching character traits, by example, shows your child how to incorporate these traits into their daily lives.
Explain Why Politeness Is Necessary
One of the questions that young children tend to ask is, “Why.” Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to eat this broccoli? Why does a cat have fur?” With a plethora of questions burgeoning inside of their minds, parents can use this inquisitiveness to present concepts to their child.
Youngsters will most likely not ask questions about courtesy, but explaining the reasoning behind certain behaviors is important to satisfy their minds. If they are pulling a pet’s tail, explain to them that their behavior is hurting the animal and also that the pet may retaliate if they continue.
Of course, these principles relate to people and objects. Knowing how to teach grace and courtesy also applies to respecting property in addition to people. A little bit of explanation can go a long way in satiating their inquiring minds.
Set up Specific Boundaries
Even as an adult, it’s nice to know the protocol in certain situations. If you’re in a meeting, it is comforting to know if it is ok to take notes on a laptop or if you can interrupt to ask questions and present ideas.
The same goes for children. Whether they are at home, school, or playing at a friend’s, knowing the house rules sets up a student for success.
These can be general, such as putting away things after using them or location-specific, such as only getting snacks from a specific drawer if they are hungry. Although it may seem confining, offering a set of parameters goes a long way in making children comfortable with their surroundings, especially if they are in a new place.
It also helps to inform your child that different locations – such as grandma and grandpa’s – may have alternate rules, but that’s ok!
Use Activities to Instill Courtesy
Planning activities is possibly one of the most practical ways to teach grace and courtesy. Having a list of actions to do makes things simple.
Many of these practices are done within the Montessori classroom. Use ideas from the list below for ways on how to teach your child to be courteous.
How to Teach Grace and Courtesy
- Working on a task together
- Giving comfort
- Offering to give help
- Giving a gift
- Serving someone else
- Asking for permission
- Asking for help
- Asking a person to move
- Inviting someone to an event
Interacting with Others
- Taking turns
- Not interrupting
- Introducing people
- Excusing oneself
- Standing in line
- Making eye contact
- Being quiet when someone is talking
- Listening to directions
- Giving thanks
- Getting someone’s attention
- Greeting another person
- Being kind
- Working alone
- Saying “please”
- Sharing with others
- Speaking softly
- Saying “no”
- Waiting patiently
- Demonstrating table manners
Role Play to Encourage Creativity and Application
The above examples of grace and courtesy can be taught through simply demonstrating these attributes, though role playing can be done with friends and/or family members.
For example, to show a child how to wait patiently for someone’s attention, demonstrate laying a hand on someone’s shoulder while they are engaged in an activity or conversation. Have the person acknowledge your presence and tell you, “I’ll be with you in a moment.” After a minute or two, the person should re-acknowledge you and thank you for patiently waiting and ask you how they can help you.
Have your child participate in this exercise. They will enjoy “playing” like this and they will learn an important lesson!
You can apply this type of role playing to the whole list of grace and courtesy lessons!
Again, children love to play! It’s how they learn and express themselves. Whether they spend time with a neighbor, sibling, cousin, or parent, here are a few real-life situations where they can have playtime and exhibit positive behaviors.
Children love to mimic real life as they play hospital or put on a puppet show. As a parent, you can observe or listen in and create teachable moments with role playing.
- Library – Have kids gather books and pretend to check them in and out. Don’t forget to keep quiet, whether you are the librarian or just visiting the library.
- Restaurant – Whether the server or patron, kids can make and take orders while learning to serve and be served well. This could be fun for snack time!
- Theater – Put on a show, be in the audience, or perform for an invisible set of theater-lovers. Either way, practicing being in front of “people” is an important skill.
- History – Does your child have a favorite historical figure? Learn about someone who exhibited grace and pretend to be them or in their time.
- Farmer – Plant seeds, harvest, and sell produce. This is a great way to do a bit of role-playing outside as you teach courtesy.
- House – Parents, siblings, and pets! What a fun way to incorporate a lot of real-life play by mimicking the roles of people (or animals!) they know and love.
No matter which activities you choose, it is incredibly vital to your child to know how to treat property and living things along with handling situations with ease. Setting your child up for success indeed includes knowing how to teach grace and courtesy at home and beyond.
Grace and courtesy exercises help children with the awareness of how their behavior affects others. This is the start of cosmic education.
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