Grace is a concept related to the movement, saving unnecessary movements to take an action. This is a natural behavior that comes from the inner self of the man and allows him/her to act in the most efficient way. It not only refers to the movement, it is also referred to the words, they way we speak and the kind of voice we use.
Courtesy is related to the action as an object directed to the benefit of others.
So, in a pinch, Grace is the movement in itself, and Courtesy is the manner to act it.
Both create the harmony between body and mind. Maria Montessori said that the child is born in a state of grace. We have to be very conscious of our movements so the child can absorb them and can develop them as their own.
With Grace and Courtesy, men/women can acquire a certain degree of consciousness and harmony between body and mind, within himself/herself and with others. To be really gracious, one has to have a positive image of him/herself, which trascends the self and reaches a total acknowledgment. Only this way one can aid others successfully and with dignity.
Maria Montessori believed that because children were born in state of grace, the purpose of said Grace and Courtesy exercises was to support that natural state. This is achieved by allowing the natural limits and rules of the child’s environment guide him/her interactions with others.
The adult is the model and we teach with our actions day by day. That is why we should be observant of our actions. We have to say hello and goodbye when the children come and go, looking straight to their eyes when we talk to them, Talk to them honestly and truthfully, say “please”, “thank you” and “sorry, cover our mouths when coughing, yawning, sneezing; knock on the door before entering, respect the speaking turn…
The guide is the example of Grace and Courtesy in the Montessori environment, stimulating this instincts on the child who already has them within. This requires on the Director/Directress a sense of introspection and analysis of movement and behavior, the way he/she speaks to the child, to the parents and other adults in the environment.
Grace and Courtesy acts are based on the culture and are represented by actions taken on a daily basis as a self act, not to show others. Real actions which will help children dominate his/her desires, work on a community, define the concept of justice and social life, and also satisfying his needs for imitation.
Some Montessori Activities in the group of Grace and Courtesy:
- Carry a mat
- Carry a chair
- Carry a table
- Roll and unroll a mat
- Carry a tray
- Sit and stand up from a chair
- Carry a plate, glass, vase…
- Opne and close door
- Take and carry a book
- Handle a book
- How we walk
- Say “Hello” when you enter
- Say “goodbye” when leaving
- Help a classmate in need
- Help and collaborate in the cleaning of the environment
- Say “Tank you”
- Open and close bottles
- Say “Please”
- Open an close windows
- Observe and respect others’ work
- Wait for one’s turn
- Using and appropriate voice level
- Solve conflicts by speaking
- Make way
- Hang jacket and clothes on the hanger
- Leave the shoes in its place.
- How to clean one’s nose, cough and sneeze.
- Table manners
“It is of vital importance that family and parents acknowledge they are the example of grace and courtesy, their actions and behaviors in the environment of the child will be absorbed by the child’s mind unconsciously at first, when the absorbent mind is working.”
Margaret E. Stephenson.