It is my pleasure to welcome Pauline Meert to the Trillium Montessori blog! Pauline is a trained Montessori teacher with a ton of experience. I met Pauline in Aubrey Hargis’s Montessori 101 Facebook group. I was super excited to learn that she has written a series of early reading books that are sequenced according to the pink, blue, and green series popular in many Montessori classrooms. You have to check them out, they have the sweetest hand drawn illustrations and charming stories! Today she’s going to talk to us about some important concepts for the beginning of the school year.
Every new school year, I contemplate on the best possible way to begin the year. As Montessori teachers, we have all learned about the importance of the prepared environment, the meticulous way to present lessons, and the many other crucial aspects to offer children the best Montessori education. However, the more I teach and learn, the more I see that Grace and Courtesy lessons are what is most important to prepare for a successful year. Yes our environment must be beautiful, our materials spotless, our assistant trained, and our plan ready, but without Grace and Courtesy all our hard work could be worthless.
Grace and Courtesy lessons are the corner stone to how everything flows within the classroom, from how to shake hands in the morning, to how to ask a question, or solve a disagreement. These lessons allow children to be a part of the community and grow towards normalization.
Children starting around age 3 have a very sensitive period towards social interactions. Grace and Courtesy lessons not only meet that need but also offer children the tools they seek to be both independent and successful in the classroom.
It can be easy to want to start the new school year just the same as we ended the last. We have many returning students, we know where they are at and the lessons they received in the past. So why not just pick up right where we left off?
Children’s sense of time is very different from ours. Starting a new school year feels like starting from scratch. Thus, we must also take the time to revisit the basics of the classroom setting. As the returning children review, the new children can learn. Not only does this help create a sense of community but it also offers the older children the confidence to teach and support the younger students. As Montessori said in the The Absorbent Mind: “Our schools show that children of different ages help one another. The younger one sees what the older ones are doing and asks for explanations. There is a communication and harmony between the two that one seldom finds between the adult and the small child.”
So how do we present Grace and Courtesy? Everyone has their own way but the most common is through role-playing. Not only do the children learn well through witnessing the interactions and participating but they also find this fascinating and entertaining!
In my classroom, we spend a lot of time reviewing, roleplaying, practicing, and learning Grace and Courtesy. This builds a strong foundation for the rest of the year. Should Grace and Courtesy only happen in the beginning of the year? Of course not! However, once we have set in place a strong foundation, all we need to do is review throughout the year!
Here is a list of some of our Grace and Courtesy lessons
- Greet someone
- Watch someone’s work
- Offer or refuse help
- Ask a question
- Interrupt a lesson
- Welcome a visitor
- Solve a disagreement
- Serve food
- Set up snack
- Excuse one’s self
- Choose a work
- Walk in the classroom
- Use quiet voices
- Respect others’ work
- Use materials appropriately
- Line up
- Hang up coats and backpacks
- Sit at the line
- Use the restroom
And of course, don’t forget that Grace and Courtesy lessons should not be restricted to the classroom environment but also transfer to the lunch area, the playground, and most importantly, the home!
Culturally Inclusive Grace and Courtesy
Recognizing our own biases with manners and social graces is crucial with Grace and Courtesy lessons. What may be appropriate according to your cultural perspective may be deemed unfavorable or rude for another. For example, firm handshakes, direct eye contact, and/or offering handshakes to members of the opposite sex may be culturally inappropriate (as can be true for many Non-Western Cultures.) Consider anti-bias training to help you in adopting these culturally responsive practices.
What Grace and Courtesy lessons do you give in the first few weeks of school? What have you found to be most successful in starting the year off right?
Grace and Courtesy by Trillium Montessori
How to Start a New Class by Trillium Montessori
Grace and Courtesy by Primary Montessori Guide
Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy by Deb Chitwood
Pauline Meert is the lucky teacher to twenty wonderful children in a beautiful Montessori classroom. She enjoys making new materials and discussing Montessori with strangers. She can be found at
For Little Ones: Pauline’s Etsy store where you can find her handmade books
Montessori Geek: Pauline’s Blog
Pauline’s Pinterest Boards