As we prepare to do in-person learning with students for our summer program, it is imperative that we think about our grace & courtesy lessons as a vehicle for understanding and providing reflection for students. Living through a global health crisis has been challenging for all, but especially for our Black & Indigenious communities where the virus has disproportionately impacted. We know that some learners have been able to have access to the outdoors and family members that were able to stay home due to flexible schedules. Others have had to stay inside with elders and close relatives while their parents worked. We need to meet ALL of our children’s social and emotional needs! These Grace and Courtesy lessons were created for the first week back and is designed for Elm City Montessori School. Our hope in sharing this is to be a guide as we believe it could/should be altered for your own specific school. In the spirit of Montessori practices, this is  a living document that will be refined to meet the needs of children as we observe and follow them throughout the summer. 

What is a Grace & Courtesy Lesson:

Grace and Courtesy lessons are used in Montessori classrooms and equip children to have  healthy connections with adults, peers, and the learning environment. They are simple exercises and role plays that you can do with the whole class or one child. For example, children learn how to go around another learner’s rug, showing respect for their work!

Week one Overview 

Before going back into the classroom, a brief video call with families and children can happen where you can tell them that the class will look different. Give them time to ask questions, but most of all give families a space to process and create ways for collaboration. The first week should feel like a re-introduction to the classroom.

First Day

Keeping the same rituals will be important. We know that physical touch will be limited, but showing love through your mask is possible. At our school, we use conscious discipline and one of our rituals is greeting every child. Get innovative with your students and create new No contact greeting rituals.   

Doing a walk through of the space can be useful too. You can ask the children while you walk, “what is different about the space? Should we make any changes to ensure everyone’s safety?”

Reassure children that you will do everything you can to keep them safe with moments throughout the day for stand-up guided meditation and mindfulness. Some learners may have anxiety the first day. You may want to give all/some children a small “Noticing Book” where they can document where the anxiety is living in their body. If they are younger, you can have them draw!

Grace & Courtesy Lessons (ages: for all, but geared towards primary 3-6 yrs. old)

How to greet a friend: Group lesson preferably outside  

All children should be seated or standing. Ask for two volunteers and tell them to come in the middle of the circle.

Presentation

Introduction

Prepare all materials before like a greeting sheet with examples.

Invite students to come participate in your lesson by telling them you have something to show them. Show each child where exactly to sit or stand and once all have found a space, tell them, “Today we are going to learn how to greet a friend. We have to be creative and greet each other without touching. Do you think we can do that?”

Give them time to think about it and ask, “How can you greet __________ without touching?”

If the child is having a hard time finding a way, you can point to your greeting sheet. “Can you try this one?”

You can also model for the child too. 

Purpose

Direct: To assist the child to be social and also create distance. 

Points of Interests

Creating a no contact ritual with a friend/peer interaction

How to ask for space: Group lesson   

All children should be seated or standing. Ask for one volunteer and tell them to come in the middle of the circle.

Presentation

Introduction

No materials are needed.

Invite student to come participate in your lesson by telling them you have something to show them. Show each child where exactly to sit or stand and once all have found a space, tell them, “Today we are going to learn how to ask for space. It is important to ask for space when someone is too close to you because we want to practice social distancing.” Ask the child to say social distancing. During this time of a health crisis or pandemic (ask the child to say pandemic), doctors and scientists think it’s best to stay away from others so they cannot touch or cough on you. 

Let’s practice. Invite the child to stand just a little too close. When you notice the child getting close, move back and say, “please give space. It is important for space right now so we don’t spread our germs to others!”

You can have the child practice being the person to move away! 

Purpose

Direct: To help children understand the importance of keeping space and how to respectively and firmly reclaim space. 

Points of Interests

Moving briskly away from their friend.

Coughing and Yawning can be found here 

Continue to emphasize why it is important for us to safely cough, sneeze, and yawn, in our elbow

How to ask for help

Our learners are use to putting a hand on our shoulder indicating that they need our attention or help. Remind them that we need to use a no contact way to show you need support. I would create some type of hand signal with the class in the beginning of the school year. The more you create with them, the more they will be invested in keeping each other safe!

More G & C lessons to come in the next week!

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