Montessori students learn how to work together and show kindness towards their peers.
As teachers, we are always confronted with a recurring challenge in our classrooms, namely, trying to enable our children to have positive and constructive interactions with one another. That implies that in our prepared environment, they are given plenty of opportunities to initiate interaction and work together cooperatively. It also means that they develop a sense a comfort and feel at ease to express their feelings and thoughts with their teachers and classmates. In doing so, we must help them develop self-regulation. Therefore, often children must be allowed to cry, be upset, and be given the chance to work through their emotions on their own without adult interference. However, when we give them all this freedom, as caregivers and educators, we must also pave the road to kindness and empathy.
In our class, as we prepared to celebrate Valentine’s Day this past month, we played a few games during which the children had to work together, rely on one another, and show kindness and affection towards their peers. Thus, we played passing our Montessori bell and as the children were passing it, they were hugging the friend they were giving the bell to. In a different game, we all sat in a circle and passed a ball of yarn around from one child to another. As the yarn was being passed around, each child had to say something kind about the peer they were passing it to. It was really beautiful to hear the kids say so many thoughtful and sweet things about their peers. Another good and fun exercise that can be done at circle time is setting up a rope in a maze shape in the middle of the carpet and having a few kids at a time holding hands and walking on the rope together trying to help each stay on the rope without losing balance and finding the way out of the maze.
These are just a few examples of activities that can encourage children to develop their social skills and improve their interactions with one another. Before we prepare children for academic development and engage them in numerous structured activities, we must remember to plant the right seeds in order to grow the soul of the child. In the end, only through a holistic approach, our children reach their potential and happiness.