“Education is a natural process carried out by the child
and is not acquired by listening to words
but by experiences in the environment.”
— Dr. Maria Montessori
Each week, we use gentle, tiny reminders to encourage the children to focus on a particular courtesy we use in the Atrium. These, too, are based on observation. Some early grace and courtesy lessons focused on getting rugs rolled up and returned, straightening shelves, and generally noticing the space around them. Then we attended how we walk and talk in the environment (inside feet and inside voice). We have now progressed to gentle reminders of how to greet one another (Good Morning, or Hello, with the person’s name), and how to get another person’s attention (a soft, gentle hand and then practice patience). At this point reminders are necessary and yet significant in building a kind, safe, nurturing environment. Now we see that when a child notices a messy activity or rug, they fix it (not all the time, but we are getting there!). When a child drops something, another friend may offer to help them. In this way, grace and courtesy not only signals a sense of how we behave, it becomes an awareness of how we actively contribute to the community.
We are also learning faith. This, too, speaks to grace, and courtesy. When we focus on respect; when we build awareness and observation; we are also developing reverence and humility. We began the year exploring different ways to give praise (song, word, movement, breath, and silence). We talk about how God lives in the silence, and how we listen for God. We are reading different sentences from the Psalms. There are some profound moments with the children, as they receive what is given, and find ways to express their experience of prayer in their own words. Their curiosity and joy teaches us every day!