Written by Jenny Formon
As parents, we have the awesome responsibility of giving our children experiences that help them to grow, learn, and develop. We talk with our children to help them develop language and vocabulary, we read to our children to help them love books and create an awareness of print, we take walks with our children to show them the beauty in nature. All of these things are very direct ways of teaching and guiding our children. But there is another, sometimes larger way that we are teaching our children and that is through our actions. We must always remember the eyes and ears on those small bodies can be very big. Role-modeling is an important tool in helping our children understand love of learning, respect, and treating others with compassion.
“The most powerful way to change the world is to live our lives in front of our children the way we would like the world to be.”Graham R. White
Compassion: A Montessori Core Value
Dr. Montessori saw hope for peace in the education of children. That foundation is laid in Montessori schools, as children become independent, self-actualized, and compassionate community members. In our classrooms, compassion for others is one of our core values that we impart on a daily basis. It shows up as students of many cultures and faiths come together in mutual support and respect. We learn and celebrate these cultures. It shows up in the resolution of conflicts when the children hurt each other with words or actions. We guide the children to respectful conversations, healing the wounds and restoring the relationship. It shows up as children engage with one another in a supportive learning environment where mistakes are made, lessons are learned, and ridicule and shame are replaced with respect and support. It also shows up in the way in which we model compassion to the children as well as each other.
As you go through your daily life, you can model compassion to your child, remembering that he is always watching your words and actions. Here are a few simple ways:
- Hold the door for someone walking into a building.
- Wave and thank the driver next to you that let you into heavy traffic.
- Give a kind word to the cashier at the store.
- Talk with your child in a respectful way.
- Share stories of how someone else showed compassion to you.
“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education,” Montessori wrote in conversations with Gandhi years ago. Collectively, their work made a difference in their world. So too will ours.
Jenny Formon has been working at Charlotte Montessori since 1995. She enjoys being in the classroom as well as sharing the Montessori philosophy with others. Jenny writes with her fellow teachers for her school’s blog at: http://www.charlottemontessori.com/blog/.