Some of the first lessons in our Pre-elementary Montessori classrooms are called Grace and Courtesy. Students learn to push in chairs, quietly open and close lockers and doors, clean up their work so it is ready for another classmate to use, and move calmly in the classroom. They are guided in expressing their feelings and listening to others. "Please" and "thank you" are used regularly. Students are also taught how to welcome visitors to the classroom. These lessons extend into their Geography studies as they learn about different cultures and customs around the world. They use grace and courtesy while having open dialogues about these cultures' similarities and differences. Every October, the Pre-elementary students collect money for UNICEF and learn about how they can help others in need. In other words, they are learning how to be thoughtful and respectful.
In Lower Elementary, Grace and Courtesy lessons continue. Respecting the rights and needs of others and respecting the environment are guiding principles in each classroom. The Montessori curriculum is designed to open the students' eyes to the vastness of our universe and world. Dialogue continues about the diversity within and between communities from global to local. The students approach these discussions with grace and courtesy as they discuss differences in cultural norms, belief systems, learning styles, and personal preferences. Each school year the students learn about opportunities to help those in need around the world. This year, the Lower students are collecting money for Heifer International, an organization that helps communities strengthen their local economies through livestock donations.
Upper Elementary and Middle School students continue to build upon the principles of respecting the rights and needs of others and respecting the environment. Teachers guide students both individually and as a group to problem solve, collaborate, and agree to disagree as their social world is becoming more complex and varied. They study current and historical events, physical and political geography, civics, the environment, and even the history of the universe through the interdisciplinary Big History Project. As they delve deeply into these topics, their awareness of the global community increases and their service learning projects range in scope from local to global. The students raise and release salmon while learning about environmental stewardship in the Seattle area, and they are encouraged to take initiative to organize drives working with local and international charities. Through these lessons and service learning projects, the students recognize their impact upon and their capacity for local and global citizenship.
Grace and Courtesy Lessons help our students respond thoughtfully and respectfully in all kinds of situations. They help students think beyond their own needs, be collaborative, problem solve, and think critically. They help our students grow into citizens of the world knowing that one voice or several voices in unison can make a difference. "Within the child lies the fate of the future". Dr. Maria Montessori