Dr. Maria Montessori believed that a child not only needs to be loved, nurtured and cared for, but also respected. Demonstrating respect for your child early on helps them grow to be courteous, kind, thoughtful, and compassionate. That’s why Apple Montessori Schools focuses on building a child’s emotional and social skills from the outset by creating a respectful, loving, and safe environment in which to learn.
“Directing our action toward mankind means, first and foremost, doing so with regard to the child. The child, that ‘forgotten citizen,’ must be appreciated in accordance with his true value. His rights as a human being who shapes all of mankind must become sacred.” – Maria Montessori
Children learn civility, patience, tolerance, and respectfulness of others by observing and modeling the behaviors of their parents and caretakers. Simply stated, they learn to treat others as they are treated.
First and foremost, demonstrating respect begins with how you speak to your child and others in your family. While an infant or toddler may not understand the words you use, they do perceive your tone, emotions, and intensity of engagement. Always take the time to speak with your child patiently and attentively. Simple gestures such as explaining what you are doing for them, asking how they are feeling, and being understanding of their behavior and moods in a calm, peaceful manner goes a long way in building a trustful, respectful relationship.
At Apple Montessori Schools, we take pride in teaching children to be respectful of themselves and others. We believe children are naturally inclined to show politeness, compassion, and empathy when provided appropriate role models and guidance. For example, we greet and introduce children politely upon entering our classroom. They reciprocate in turn with friendly “hellos” and handshakes. And, there are always plenty of “please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome” voiced throughout the day. Proper manners reflect well on the child and their parents.
Being mindful of others
In the Apple Montessori classroom, children learn the importance of valuing and being thoughtful of the needs and feelings of other students. Mindfulness of their classmates’ workspaces, activities, and belongings is of paramount importance.
If conflicts do arise, we take time to help children resolve their issues peacefully through constructive communication. Conflict resolution and problem-solving skills are life-lessons that will help your child interact with other people respectfully throughout their lives.
The art of positive, respectful communication can be practiced in so many ways at home and in the classroom.
Reinforce good behavior
When your child says or does something kind or helpful, recognize what they did and why it led to a good outcome. “Letting your friend play with your toys made her very happy. We all had a fun play date with you. We’ll have another play date again soon.”
Praise efforts, not just the results
When your child does well in an activity, focus your praise on their efforts and what they did appropriately. “You did well in your swim class today. All your practice was worth your efforts.” This statement reinforces the positive actions that led to success. If your child does not do as well as they expected, that’s the time to focus on what they did right and respectfully address what they can improve upon in the future. “You swam very well today. Your breaststroke was strong. Tomorrow we’ll practice your backstroke.”
Recognize kindness from others
When your child receives a gift from someone, let your child know how thoughtful that person was to take the time and effort to extend their kindness. It’s never too early to engage your child in the habit of hand-drawing or hand-writing “thank you” notes. It’s a timeless social art that sincerely demonstrates politeness and gratitude.
Acknowledge emotions and moods
We’re all human, and no matter at what age, we all can get cranky and feel out-of-sorts. When your child or others are not feeling well, that’s the time we need to listen, express understanding, and show compassion for their feelings and emotions.
If your child gets tired and hungry after a day out, have a “happy treat bag” ready in the car with fruit and healthy snacks and say, “I understand how you feel and let’s talk about the good things that happened in your day.” Taking time to acknowledge your child’s feelings and share the day’s events shows you care about and respect your child’s feelings.
If your child is upset, talk it out, understand what happened, and how your child feels. Getting to the source of discomfort and engaging in constructive discussions about possible solutions leads to respectful, trustful conversations. You will help your child learn to cope with challenges and disappointments in the future.
Create a respectful environment
At Apple Montessori Schools, we strive to create a welcoming, loving, and safe environment for our students. Our goal is to help your child learn to appreciate and respect everyone and live in harmony with others.
“There is a great sense of community within the Montessori classroom, where children of differing ages work together in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competitiveness. There is respect for the environment and for the individuals within it, which comes through experience of freedom within the community.”—Maria Montessori