Do people shake hands in your cultural tradition? Perhaps when they greet one another, upon first introduction, or at the conclusion of a meeting?
For adults, a handshake is a somewhat formal way to say hello or goodbye. But many (not all) Montessori classrooms begin and end the day with a handshake too! Why is that?
Here are a few reasons a handshake or some form of greeting is embedded in the Montessori tradition:
Grace and Courtesy
Lessons in Grace and Courtesy help a child understand “what to do, when.” For example, what do I do when I get to school? Oh! I greet my teacher with a handshake. In this very practical way, a child learns then implements “how to greet someone” and “how to say goodbye”, both important Grace and Courtesy lessons!
Children also learn how to respect personal space with a handshake. Not every child is comfortable with a hug, and a wave is a bit impersonal. The handshake allows for personal space while also creating a sense of community by acknowledging one another’s presence.
Transition to Classroom Time
The greeting of a handshake also serves as a calm transition to classroom time. A child might be scared about leaving mom or dad, excited to see their friends, or tired from the day before. No matter the emotion, the calm and secure routine of the handshake prepares a child to start their day anew.
This point of transition is also important in the relationship between child and teacher. While the child might spend the rest of the day independently doing their own work, this greeting in the morning allows the teacher to communicate one-on-one with the child, “I see you, I care for you, and I’m glad you’re here!” What a lovely way to start the day!
The handshake or other type of greeting that marks the beginning and end of the day is an important tradition in the Montessori philosophy. It helps children learn lessons of Grace and Courtesy and smoothly transitions a child from home to school.
Do you know of other traditions that serve this purpose? We’d love to hear of them, share your thoughts in Chat!
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