Friends, I have a little Montessori grace and courtesy trick that is going to CHANGE. YOUR. LIVES.
Grace and courtesy is an actual part of the Montessori curriculum — basically, it teaches manners and social skills. In a classroom, it’s usually taught via role playing in front of the whole class or a small group. You can do the same thing at home, whether you’re homeschooling or not, and it’s extremely effective in modeling polite social interactions. One of my very favorite [and most useful in the home environment!] grace and courtesy lessons is what I call “the waiting hand.”
Young children have a lot to say. They have a lot to say, and it needs to be heard NOW. How many times have you been having a conversation with another adult or with one of your other children, when your child appears before you and starts blazing through with her own thoughts/questions/needs? And then, if [God forbid] you don’t immediately stop your current conversation to attend to your child, she gets louder and more insistent. ALL. THE. TIME. What if I told you there was an easy trick to teach your child to get your attention and then wait for you to be ready to give it to her, all without verbally interrupting the conversation you’re already in? Mind-blowing.
But it’s easy! Just teach your child about the waiting hand. How? Stick around — there’s a free book at the end of this post to help!
You’re in the middle of something with someone else — for example, working with your other child. Your youngest is working across the room by herself.
Suddenly, she turns and notices you. She thinks of something she needs to say to you right away.
She walks over to talk to you, but sees that you are quite busy presenting a lesson! She quietly places her hand on your shoulder.
You acknowledge that you see that she is waiting patiently by covering her hand with your own. She waits until you are ready.
You finish your lesson presentation/conversation/whatever you were doing and turn to attend to your waiting child. She smiles and says whatever she needed to say, then goes back to her work.
Yes, these photos are staged — but this is something that happens EVERY DAY in our home, several times a day! Sometimes I’m talking to my husband in the kitchen when Lila comes running up to ask a question, so she puts her hand on my shoulder (or hip, if I’m standing and she can’t reach), and I come to a natural stopping point in my conversation so I can meet her needs. My conversation doesn’t end immediately, with neither of us able to hear each other over her demands or with my train of thought completely derailed — it continues until I finish communicating my point, and then it pauses as I acknowledge a patiently waiting child.
Not only does this work in our homeschool and our home, I’VE SEEN THE GIRLS DO THIS OUT IN PUBLIC WITH OTHER ADULTS! I’ve watched Lila jumping up and down, trying to get her science teacher’s attention before she remembers and pauses — reaches up a tentative hand — and places it on her teacher’s shoulder [her teacher was pretty short!]. The teacher, surprised, immediately turned to her and answered her question. Even Nora, at just 3.5 years old, remembers to use her waiting hand more frequently than not, in a wide variety of situations.
So how do you get this to happen in your own home? Model it! Practice in low-key situations. And if you subscribe to my email newsletter, you can get a free printable book I made to read with your child!
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