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Notes to a Montessori Parent - Remember Grace and Courtesy for the Under Two's

Grace and Courtesy at How we Montessori Otto waving hello

Most often I have just one child at home and it's easy for me to forget about grace and courtesy.  In the classroom, it's essential to the harmonious workings of the environment. So grace and courtesy is something that I've been thinking about. Here are a few areas of grace and courtesy that we've been doing or I'm trying to remember to more of with my toddler:

  • saying 'please' and 'thank you' - also no 'thank you'. 
  • saying 'hello', 'how are you', 'good-bye', 'see you next time', 'see you tomorrow' - general greeting people at the door or when visiting others. Waving to people we know (pictured above). Can include shaking hands like with a teacher before class. 
  • push in chair - when finished at the table.
  • wash hands - before eating, after petting animals, after using the potty.
  • use table manners - This needs to be age-appropriate but we ask our toddler to sit while eating, no throwing of food (!), use a napkin to wipe mouth and hands and general niceties like no eating off other people's plates or poking each other with forks - all toddler related. 
  • walk around other people and their work - at home, this is mainly with siblings.
  • waiting a turn, asking for a turn, no snatching - again this refers mainly to siblings but also some social situations and group classes. 
  • don't disturb - don't disturb other people's work or disturb other people while they are working - this is often not disturbing siblings while reading or doing homework. 
  • treat materials with care including books - not throwing materials, putting them away when finished - this is especially important in a shared setting, being gentle with materials, not stepping on books, not throwing materials at other people.
  • treat others with respect - no biting, pinching, kicking.
  • sharing snack - when appropriate. This is most common for us when we have friends visiting and snack is shared. Also includes taking snack (or not) when offered by someone else. Can including taking one piece without touching all of the other pieces first. 
  • waiting patiently - this is so hard for a toddler but it is learned. Can also be practiced when waiting in line at the market or store.
  • interrupting - again this is a little difficult for the under-twos, but ask them to touch your shoulder or hand and hold until you get to them, this is a lot better than having a toddler screaming and pulling on your hand (or jumper/pulling your sleeve), again this is a process and something that can be taught. 
  • speaking on the telephone - this is tricky sometimes for toddlers. This is also a great time to practice greeting like hello and goodbye.  
  • be quiet and listen while others are talking - relevant in situations like at Forest School when the teacher is giving instructions or when an adult (teacher/guide/friend) is talking to them.
  • seeking consent - I'm not sure if this comes into the grace and courtesy area but children need to learn to ask for consent before hugging or playing rough games like tag (before the game starts). Too often I see toddlers being told to hug each other when they don't want to and haven't sought consent. 

Also, remember freedom within limits. Otto still throws some of his materials. I model, remind him not to, ask him not to but if he continues, the activity stops and the materials are put away, possibly out of rotation. If we allow them to misuse the materials we are accepting their behaviour.

Grace and courtesy is something that is absorbed from the environment. We as parents need to show grace and courtesy too. Be mindful of how we treat other people, our voice and tone, look the child in the eye when talking to them, be patient and kind. As done in the classroom we can also role play many of these scenarios and practice them at home especially with siblings or even cousins and close friends.

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