The Courtesy of Connection

Shaking hands is a wonderful way to begin and end the day! Beginning at 8:30 I shake at least 15 primary hands, 20 if you include miscellaneous parents, and if the adolescents happen to come down the sidewalk when I am greeting the primary students out on the curb, add 30 more. The toddlers don’t bother to stop as they run past Monique and me to their classroom door to be greeted!

Just as no two fingerprints are alike, no two handshakes are alike! Each is unique and a direct connection to that individual. Through a handshake, we give and we receive, we develop trust and trustworthiness. Shaking hands slows us down to recognize and acknowledge and to be recognized and acknowledged. I shake hands throughout the day. The students are very accustomed to it, adults sometimes feel awkward, Yet, through the handshake, a very authentic and welcoming connection is established.

Shaking hands is just one of the numerous grace and courtesy lessons children are taught in Montessori. These lessons are deeper and far more significant than simply learning to shake hands or say thank you. They establish the foundation of how we recognize and connect to one another, how we behave toward one another, how we treat the world around us, and how we show appreciation and gratitude. Guiding children in the courtesies of our various cultures will benefit them greatly in every level of life, in their own hearts, in their families, in their relationships, in their community, and throughout the world. Grace and courtesy generates harmony between individuals, allowing acceptance and understanding. Courtesy cannot really be taught, rather it is learned through modeling. The most powerful lesson for a child is what we model for them, not what we tell or teach them to do.

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