Respect is an important and universal concept, and one that is a life-long interpersonal practice. But what does it mean to respect someone or something? How do you explain this somewhat abstract concept to your kindergartener? Luckily, there are a few Montessori strategies you can use in teaching this fundamental idea, each of them founded in the key Montessori teaching approach of demonstrating and letting your child choose how to explore the topic, instead of lecturing. Afterall, not only is it easier for you to show what respect is rather than explain it, but it is also more easily learned by your kindergartner when they see and experience respect.
Observing and Naming Respectful Behavior
As you go through your day and your many interactions with the people and community around you, you can find many opportunities with your child to observe behavior. For example, you can ask questions and discuss interactions with their Montessori teacher that morning: “How did it feel when your teacher asked you how you were doing this morning and listened to your answer?” Together you can then discuss if listening is one of the ways to show respect. Eventually, you will build a good list of the specific qualities of respect that your child understands.
Model Respect in Conflicts
Your child’s understanding of the concept of respect might be best deepened and solidified when it is experienced in times of conflict. These can be the most challenging moments to adhere to respectful behavior, but as a consequence, these moments can also be the most clarifying. When you encounter a conflict, with your child or with other family and friends, you can model the sort of behavior you feel best demonstrates respect. An example of respectful, nonviolent communication you can use could be: “When I’m poked while I’m talking with our neighbor, I feel frustrated because I need to concentrate. Would you be willing to hold my hand and wait until I acknowledge you?” This type of response neutrally observes your child’s behavior that isn’t showing respect, shares your feelings and needs in the moment, and offers a way for your child to make another choice of behavior. Now, this response is not always easy or intuitive. But the good news is, even when you inadvertently or hastily use behavior that isn’t showing respect, that is another opportunity to talk with your child about how you would want to do it better in the future.
Acting as guides, older students help lead younger students throughout their education journey, including modeling for them good behaviors, such as respect. Montessori education focuses on the child as a whole. To learn more, contact the Montessori School of Flagstaff Sunnyside Campus today.