“The child in the Montessori school is not isolated, he is a microcosm of the Human Society, the ideal reality of this society lies in the Unity and Coherence, respect and love. ” The Child, Society, and the World – Dr Maria Montessori In light of the above quote, discuss the value of the social skills in the Montessori school and give the example of experiences, which would help the child acquire understanding and respect for the others. Introduction “An isolated individual cannot develop his individuality. He must put himself in relationship with his environment and within the reach of the events and the life of his times. http://www. montessori-namta. org/NAMTA/PDF%20files/Outcomes. pdf, Child’s Instinct to Work, Maria Montessori Imagine you are in a super-market to buy a pack of milk. You are standing in a queue waiting for your turn to pay at the cash counter. All of a sudden, a person walks in, bypasses everybody in the queue and asked to be handled first at the cash counter. Whenever something like this happens, the first thought to cross our mind is always “Doesn’t this person have any manners? ” or “Didn’t this person learn anything about being patient and respecting others? We realise that having basic courtesy to respect others and their time is a very important social skill. In the same way, there are lot of other social skills that define our personality. In this essay, the social grace and courtesy are introduced. Then, the various benefits of the social skills are explained. The essay also explains in detail how the social skills are inculcated in the Montessori environment along with a few examples. Finally, how following classroom rules also helps in developing the social skills in the children. Social Grace and Courtesy
A person’s ability to move around in society with the social grace and courtesy defines a major part of the person’s personality. Social grace is elegance and beauty of movement, form, expression or proportion. Behaving gracefully in social condition is a pleasing and charming quality. Courtesy could be defined simply as good manners. Being respectful and polite are the most important parts of being courteous to others. Children learn social grace and courtesy skills first from home and then their learning environment. Human beings are naturally inclined towards the people who are graceful and respectful to others around.
Without these basic skills, the person could be isolated in the social environment. For example, if a child repeatedly misbehaves with other children, bully them, fight with them, creates unwanted noise in the lesson, very soon this child loses his/her ‘friends’ in the classroom. No child would like to sit next to the misbehaving child leading to the ill-mannered child’s isolation. Maria Montessori identified the importance of social skills and introduced exercises related to social grace and courtesy in the classroom. She believed that young children are not self-conscious and it is easy to teach them social skills at the very young age.
They carry forward their social skills learned in the young age to their rest of the life. To be more at ease in their environment, children need to know and understand the social structure. For example, a child is taught that you should always give seat to the old people while travelling in a bus or train. When a child offers his/her seat to an old person in a public place, people look at the child with appreciation and child feels good and appreciated. Therefore, as a social being and part of the society, it is very important to teach and imbibe the social grace and courtesy skills in the child. Benefits of Learning Social Skills So in the child, besides the vital impulse to create himself, and to become perfect, there must yet another purpose, a duty to fulfil in harmony, something he has to do in the service of a united whole. ” (Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p. 57)” http://lakecountryschool. org/AboutLCS/Articles/GraceCourtesyService. html Some of the benefits of learning social skills are: •Develop the sense of individuation. Knowledge and development of social skills make a child understand the meaning of ‘self’. The child understands what it means to be a ‘person’ and have social responsibilities, such as greeting others on meeting. Develop the independence skills. Being able to walk confidently, eat food at the table, use the toilet, wear clothes, greet others, and ask for help etc helps in developing the sense of independence. This also helps in building self-confidence. •Develop the trust in the people and the environment. When a child sees that a person is graceful and polite, the child finds it easy to trust that person. •Ability to fit in the social environment is another benefit of learning social skills. With these skills, the child can adjust in any social environment. •Self-discipline is one of the most important outcomes of learning social skills.
Knowing that you need to behave only in a certain way in a certain condition helps in development of discipline in the child. For example, a child goes with his/her parents for dinner at somebody’s place. The child was taught by parents and in school that you should always ask for permission from the host before using the toilet or touching anything in the host’s house. This knowledge keeps the child disciplined. •Acquire the knowledge of appropriate and specific social behaviours. The child understands the difference between right and wrong. The child also learns how to behave appropriately in a certain social condition.
For example, children learn that they need to wait for their turn to talk to the Directress if somebody else is already talking to her. •Develop patience and ability to share. With the skill of patience, respect etc, children also learn to be patient. •Develop the sense of respecting others, their time, their value, their effort etc. •Develop a willingness to abide by rules to create social order. •Development of language is also aided by learning social skills. Knowledge and implementation of social skills help the child in developing self-confidence. With this confidence, they are able to interact freely with people in the society.
Interaction leads to development of language, learning new words and learning new cultural norms. How Social Skills are Inculcated in the Montessori Environment “School is the place where the “social sentiment” is developed; it is the child’s society. ” Spontaneous Activity in Education, Page 310, Maria Montessori Maria Montessori called a school as ‘child’s society’. This is apt because children spend considerable time with other children in the school. It’s their society. They develop a sense of ownership and belonging with school and people in the school. Therefore, it is apt that they are taught the ocial skills in the school. A Montessori classroom is designed to be non-competitive and with free atmosphere. This helps in developing the sense of community. This sense of community is important because children learn to help and respect each other. Maria Montessori introduced Social Grace and Courtesy activities as part of the Practical Life Exercises/Activities. The practical activities are the first activities introduced to the child in the Montessori environment. This is because practical activities help the child in learning new practical skills and self-sufficiency. This develops confidence and independence in them.
Practical activities help a child in learning life skills and implement those at home and other social conditions. Practical life exercises are designed to teach children life skills. They help young children develop intelligent and responsible contact with their surroundings. They enhance the children’s control over their movements, exercising the muscles of the whole body with understand and willed purposes. Benefits of practical life exercises are: •To grow in self knowledge. •Develop the child’s concentration. •Develop fine and gross motor skills. •Help children towards independence. •To establish order. Develop a good self-image. •Appreciate and understand the limits of his environment. •Develop a sense of responsibility. •Aid the child in his construction. “We see a child buttoning the clothes of his younger fellow, tying his shoestrings or quickly cleaning the ground if someone happens to upset the soup. If a child washes the dishes he cleans those which others have soiled, and when he lays the table he works for the benefit of many others who have not partaken the work with him. And in spite of this he does not consider this work done in service of others as a supplementary effort deserving of praise.
No, it is the effort itself, which is f or him the most sought after prize. … In this way the part of the exterior activity of the child which is aimed toward social purposes is developed. ” The Child, Society and the World, Pg 15, Maria Montessori Maria Montessori believed that when children are first brought into a Montessori classroom, emphasis must be placed on social grace exercises. Children must be taught how to greet: “Hello”, “How do you do? ”, shaking hands, asking for something saying “Please”, apologising and excusing one self.
Once children have gained confidence in these exercises, other exercises might include setting a table, table manners, showing respect and care for others’ work and possessions. Following are the categories of social grace and courtesy activities that are taught in a Montessori classroom: •Learn introductory exercises. For example: oGreeting – Learn to say “Hello”, “How do you do? ”, shaking hands, saying “How are you? ”. oGrooming – Activities or behaviour to be followed on arrival at school (combing hair, using toilet, getting ready for the lessons), before, during and after lunch, and before and after outings or time spent in the garden. Learn basic manners of how to thank, ask for things, apologise, excuse oneself, welcome visitors, show the way, give way, offer help to others, receive visitors, ask for permission to leave and other manners. •Learn table manners such as washing hands, how to offer food to others at table, how to pass food to others, how to serve, how to excuse oneself, how to refuse another helping, how to clear away and other table manners. •Learn behaviour on outings. For example: oObserve basic traffic rules. oHow to walk with friends in twos and holding hands in pairs. How to talk and behave in public places such as library, swimming pool, restaurant and other public places. oHow to deal with things such as lost property, picking things for people, litter and clearing of obstructions on pavements. oHow to help people in need. oHow to ask the time. oHow to ask the way. oHow to show the way and give directions. oHow to use private and public telephones. oHow to use the bus – waiting, getting on and off, and buying a ticket. Classroom Rules Develop Social Skills Apart from teaching social skills as activities, Maria Montessori also ensured that the social skills are part of the simple classroom rules.
By following these rules, the child develops basic sense of social skills. These rules are: •Children can choose their own activities after they have been introduced to a certain material and procedure. By allowing the child to choose their own activities, we are showcasing the social grace of respecting others and their choices. This is showcased by the Directress in the winding up activity by letting the child know that he/she can use the material as when he/she wants. The child can always come back for help also, if required. The child needs to wait for his/her turn to use the material once the other child is through using the material. This is because the Montessori classroom material is ‘one of its own kinds’. Waiting for turn helps in development of social skill of being patient and waiting for your turn. •Children are allowed to work with the material or activity as long as they wish and as many times they wish. By letting the child decide the duration and frequency of using the material or activity, we are helping in development of sense of self and independence. Each material must be returned to its appropriate place on the shelf in such a way that it is ‘ready for the next person’. Following this rule helps in developing the social skill of be sensitive to others’ needs, respecting others’ time and respecting the need of order in the public place. The Directress helps in developing these skills because she and the child always finish an activity by placing the material back at the designated place. •Children are free to move and talk but they need to ensure that they are not disturbing other children who are working.
This is a very important rule because this helps in developing the importance of controlled movement and controlled voice modulation. The child understand that at what level of pitch he/she can talk to another child or directress without disturbing rest of the class. The child also learns the importance of controlled movement because this ensures that the child walks without tumbling on others or objects in the class. Walk on Line and Silence game activities help in developing this sense. •Children are allowed to solve their own problems by themselves.
When the Directress tell children that they can work with the material as and when they wish, they understand that they have a freedom to solve their own curiosity and problems with the material. It also helps in developing the sense of independence and responsibility. They know that they can use the material in the defined environment but they can vary the use of the material to learn something new on their own. Therefore, the development of creativity is also boosted by the good social skills. The social grace and courtesy exercises are given as group activities.
This enables the child to understand how social skills are implemented in a group. It is a directress’ responsibility to ensure that correct verbiage, controlled movements and steps are used to teach the skills. Conclusion “If one teaches them,” Montessori explained, young children “are interested to know how to greet, how to excuse themselves when they pass in front of other people, etc. ” The Child, Society and the World, Pg 2, Maria Montessori In this essay, we learnt and understood how a person’s ability to move around in society with the social grace and courtesy defines a major part of the person’s personality.
Then, the various benefits of developing social skills were explained. Some of those benefits are developing sense of individuation, independence, trust in the people and environment and self-discipline. How social skills are inculcated in the Montessori environment was explained by introducing practical life activities. Social skills are part of the day-to-day life. Therefore, they are part of the practical life activities. This section also listed the categories of social skills taught in a Montessori classroom.
Finally, we discussed how apart from teaching social skills as activities in the classroom, following of classroom rules also help in developing social skills. Bibliography SL. NO. BOOKSAUTHORYEAR OF PUBLICATION 1. The Child, Society and the World Maria Montessori1989 2. Spontaneous Activity in Education Maria Montessori1964 SL. NO. Website 1. http://lakecountryschool. org/AboutLCS/Articles/GraceCourtesyService. html 2. http://www2. scholastic. com/browse/article. jsp? id=965 3. http://www. montessori-namta. org/NAMTA/PDF%20files/Outcomes. pdf