Have you given much consideration to Grace and Courtesy lessons with your children? It's a topic I haven't written very much about but it's often on my mind. It is more of something we interweave into everyday life rather than something we prepare for and focus on. We build upon it as the child gets older but it's never too early to model. Grace and Courtesy lessons are presented at (Montessori) school but most if not all are best reinforced at home and so relevant to the life of the whole child. As with many skills grace and courtesy needs to be modelled constantly, our children look up to us and will often pick up on and follow our behaviours. I have also come to think that many grace and courtesy lessons are cultural and would definitely differ from family to family. Here are a few opportunities we take to teach grace and courtesy in our home;
- Carrying a tray, basket, plate or glass without spilling.
- Moving around the room/house with respect to others, pushing in chairs quietly, putting items down nicely (not banging/stomping around).
- Moving about the room and in public without hitting or running into/bumping into others, passing others.
- Using courteous language when appropriate. 'Hello', 'Excuse me', 'Thank you', 'No thank you', 'May I?'
- Opening and holding open doors and gates for others and closing gently/softly without slamming.
- Listening when others are speaking. Waiting for a turn before speaking.
- Introducing themselves. Greeting a person.
- Being a host. Offering food, drink to others. Helping guests around the house.
- Being a guest. Ringing doorbell, knocking on door nicely, taking shoes off at the door (if this is the custom). Behaving respectfully when visiting friends.
- Coughing, sneezing appropriately. Hand-washing afterwards.
- Offering food and serving others. Serve to others before yourself. Taking dishes to the sink when finished. Using a napkin and eating utensils (age) appropriately.
- Offering help to others.
- Asking to join in a group game or work activity.
- Dealing with conflict.
- Asking a question (asking a librarian for a book is a good start). Asking for help - children do this at school everyday.
- Placing and order at or store or paying for goods - markets are a great informal location to children to practice this.
- Using the telephone. Making calls and receiving them. Grandparents love it when they receive a call from one of my children.
- Saying thank you and writing thank you notes.
- Eating out (in a formal setting) appropriately.
- Taking turns and waiting for a turn.
- Speaking and interacting with other members of the community - postman, dentist, doctor, nurse.
- Leaving the room before and/or saying 'excuse me' after passing wind.
Some of these are fun to role play. Otis loves playing shops so this is a great way to practice ordering and general courtesy.
I also need to note that the purpose of this approach is not to have an obedient or perfectly behaved child. For our family the purpose is to empower our children with skills and words. Giving them the gift of being able to appropriately handle social situations. Allowing them to be respectful to themselves, family and friends - to all of those around them.
This is just a quick list - please feel free to add any Grace and Courtesy lessons that I may have missed or that you use at home.