Grace and Courtesy

My child came home talking about a “Grace and Courtesy lesson,” what in the world is this!? 

A note on Grace and Courtesy lessons…

Grace and Courtesy lessons are important and necessary for the environment of Children’s House. Grace and Courtesy lessons help establish the harmonious and cooperative environment. Oftentimes we expect children to know how to behave but they have never actually been shown or told how to behave in certain situations. There are special traditions and standards that each culture holds dear to their very being. There are many unspoken expectations that children are required to know. Grace and Courtesy lessons help children adapt to their time and place in history and culture.

The absorbent mind that is present in all children from birth to six is internalizing all of the words and movements around the children. From three to six, children are psychologically ready to try and understand how they are supposed to behave. Through Grace and Courtesy lessons, children learn how to live in their society and can carry this knowledge throughout their lives. We are trying to help guide the child’s character through Grace and Courtesy lessons. We cannot teach character, however, we can support the process of the child seeking to develop her character. Implementing dramas, scenarios, discussions, conversations, and modelling, we offer children support in the development of their character.

In order to support the children, we must be conscious of how we behave in our own lives. We need to model Grace and Courtesy in our everyday thoughts and actions. There are specific guidelines for Grace and Courtesy lessons as explained by Molly O’Shaughnessy.

1.      When we present Grace and Courtesy lessons, use natural words and try to make the lessons as natural and organic as possible.
2.      Grace and Courtesy lessons should be presented right away at the beginning of the year and continued daily throughout the year.
3.      We encourage frequent practice and repetition of the Grace and Courtesy lessons. 
4.      We always model proper Grace and Courtesy in daily activities.
5.      These lessons can be given individually, in a small group, and occasionally collectively. (Generally only in phasing in period) 
6.      Grace and Courtesy lessons must be given in a neutral moment They should not be presented in the heat of a conflict.
7.      Lesson should be brief, fun and interesting. (Can be only a minute or two)
8.      Lessons should be presented daily.
9.      We do not interrupt a child’s work in order to give a lesson.
10.  No one is singled out. Grace and Courtesy lessons are not about shaming or correcting, it’s about inspiring children. 
11.  Adults should anticipate social situations before they occur. They can help with a new child entering the environment, holiday celebration, help children with the proper language and behavior.
12.  If Grace and Courtesy are not shown at an early age, it’s much more difficult to learn later in life.

Some example lessons include; How to introduce yourself, how to say excuse me, how to make peace, how to observe, how to walk in the environment, how to take turns, how to introduce a friend, how to shake hands, and many others. 

The results of Grace and Courtesy lessons are astonishing. Children become responsible members of their community. There is normalization of the environment and the child. Children are capable of finding their place in the world. They have a mutual respect for all human beings and their environment. Children are confident and full of grace. Grace and Courtesy lessons are an important aspect of the Children’s House. Children gain a foundation of good manners, confidence, and respect that stays with them forever. They are capable of having conversations with anyone they meet and are prepared with the social skills to know how to introduce themselves, shake hands (if that’s present in the culture), introduce friends, draw someone’s attention, and many other purposeful life skills. 

We see normalization of the child and the environment.
We see mutual respect.
We see confident children.
We see children with inner equilibrium and grace.
We see children being able to find their place in the world.
We see children who are responsible members of the community.

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