Grace and Courtesy in a Montessori Classroom 

By Annie Green, Primary Teacher

There are many pieces of a Montessori environment that set it apart from your typical classroom. From the way the children independently work at woven rugs and wooden tables, to the way the teacher gives lessons to only a few children at a time, there are multiple things an observer would notice as unusual when comparing it to other types of schools. One thing that makes a Montessori environment exceptionally unique is the way the children and teachers speak to one another and the way they carefully move about. Throughout the year in a Primary Montessori classroom, children receive a multitude of lessons on what we call “Grace and Courtesy”.

Grace and Courtesy lessons are essentially teaching the children what it means to be polite and how to appropriately communicate his or her feelings. These lessons are often demonstrated  at circle time through role-play demonstrations given by the teacher and students who are  willing to demonstrate their etiquette (the children are always very entertained by these lessons!)

Some examples of Grace and Courtesy lessons might be:

  •   Greeting someone
  •   Asking a question  
  •   Welcoming a visitor
  •   How to shake hands  
  •   Solving a disagreement  
  •   Serving food
  •   Standing in a line  
  •   Choosing a work
  •   Walking in the classroom  
  •   Using quiet voices  
  •   Using materials appropriately  
  •   Hanging up coats and backpacks  
  •   Sitting at the line  
  •   Using the restroom         

One of the Grace and Courtesy lessons we practice most often in a primary classroom is “Solving a Disagreement”. Beginning around age three, children start to become very aware of social interactions and are in the process of learning how to communicate their feelings appropriately. One of my jobs as their teacher is to try to help them express their emotion in a way that will benefit them in various situations. For example, if a child starts to cry, I will go up to them and say,

“Billy, I see you are feeling sad. What happened?”

“Margaret knocked over my work!!!”

“Oh I see. Did it make you sad when Margaret knocked over your work?”


“Okay, Billy. Let’s  go talk to Margaret.”        

Once the children are ready to have a conversation, I will coach them through what to say so they have the tools to solve the problem independently in the future. For example:

“Billy, say, ‘Margaret,  it made you sad when she knocked over my work’ “

*child will repeat*

“Now say, ‘Please do not knock over my work’ “   

*child will repeat*

Typically, the child is immediately comforted once they have been heard. It is a natural reaction for a child to cry in response to a difficult situation, however, the more we coach them through these conversations, the easier time they will have the next time they are solving a disagreement.

Grace and Courtesy lessons can take place in the classroom, during lunchtime, on play dates, or in the home!