Jan 02, 2018
Now that I have packed away the last of the holiday decorations, it’s been nice to stop and reflect on what a special time I had and the joy found in spending quiet moments with my family. Now, don’t get me wrong, they weren’t all quiet!
We sang in our loudest voices to our favorite Christmas songs and played lots of games. We shared time baking together, taking walks and snuggling on the sofa in our favorite comfortable clothing. Gifts were exchanged and received from loved ones near and far. Cards and notes were sent to friends and family sharing messages of peace and good cheer.
With these memories fresh on my mind, I now prepare to reach out and thank those who showed my family such kindness and consideration. I open my stationery box to choose notecards and envelopes, selecting my favorite pen and postage stamps. However; I am not the only person in my household that has a note writing kit, my daughters also have access to letter writing supplies and use them frequently.
In a time when more and more of our communication is conducted digitally, making space in my home for letter writing tools and accessories passes along to my daughters the ability to practice spreading empathy through written correspondence. It is also one of the ways in which I nurture the lessons of grace and courtesy that my children experience in their Montessori classrooms.
What are the lessons of grace and courtesy in a Montessori classroom?
When a child enters a Montessori school, they are not only joining a classroom but rather a community. The guides in the classroom model to the children how one moves about the classroom space, lessons are given to the children showing how materials are gently handled, furniture carefully moved and how one can resolve conflict with another in a peaceful way. In the Montessori approach, grace and courtesy lessons are just as important as the materials on the shelf. These lessons model the way in which we relate to each other, not only the manner in which the adult communicates to the child, but also how the children communicate to each other. Lessons presented to the youngest children vary from how to carry a chair or carry a book, to how to ask a friend for help or invite them to share a snack. Older children in a Montessori environment follow grace and courtesy guidelines when holding classroom meetings or when problem solving as a group. They are learning to navigate a variety of social situations that will serve them well in their daily lives.
At home, we try follow the same grace and courtesy principles. The holiday season has provided wonderful opportunities for conversations with my daughters about spreading kindness and sharing well wishes to those around us. Putting those thoughts on paper and sending them to friends and family embraces the spirit of consideration that allows my girls to gain a greater appreciation for their place in a community outside of home and classroom.
Plus, who doesn’t love receiving a letter in the mail?!
I have prepared an area in my home where both children can freely access paper for artwork and hand writing. My eldest daughter has pencils, pens and markers at her reach while on a lower rack, I have crayons, stamps and stickers that my youngest can use.
My youngest daughter is at an age where her letters are more illustrations than words, so I make sure to have a selection of colored pencils, paints and stencils that she can use. Her correspondence takes the form of collages, paintings or hand drawn pictures. My oldest daughter has the same tools at her disposal along with other writing tools and envelopes that she can address herself. Chelyn loves to help Emily address her envelopes!
Nancy Loewen has a great book to help older children (6 years old +) learn more about letter writing:
She has also written:
In the comments below, share with us how you embrace the spirit of grace and courtesy in your homes. Do your children send letters?
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