The primary focus of a Montessori education is on the development of the whole child. The Montessori method focuses on educating the human potential of each child in a classroom, with an emphasis on character education. We believe that character education is the key to helping every child unlock their own individual potential. Virtue education helps each child understand concepts such as morality and discriminating between good and evil.
What is a Virtue?
A virtue is a universal behavior that is recognized by people of many different cultures. Virtues are necessary for every child’s happiness and well-being, and once they are learned, a child will follow them for life.
We make sure that all of our students learn the following virtues:
Kindness, patience, hard work, confidence, independence, honesty, responsibility, creativity, wisdom, perseverance, compassion, respectfulness, self-sufficiency, courage, helpfulness, grace, courtesy, joyfulness, sociability, humility, curiosity, and gratitude and service.
Virtues such as these help to build a child’s character and inspire those around them to become better people as well.
In Dr. Maria Montessori’s book, The Discovery of the Child, Dr. Montessori wrote, “She must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications.”
To develop these virtues in our students, we expose them to various experiences and stories that model each virtue and help them to understand how important each one is. Since our teachers are role models to our students, our teachers display these virtues everyday in order to reinforce them. Additionally, there is an emphasis on positive activities in order to prevent any negative character traits from forming in our students. For instance, bad habits such as disorganization and laziness will be quickly replaced by better habits, such as hard work or self-sufficiency.
Developing virtues helps a child to feel that they are leading a more purposeful life. In our classrooms, children participate in practical life activities in order to learn virtues such as service and helpfulness. Some examples of practical life activities that we use are teaching children to care for their environment and collaboration between students, allowing an older student to help a younger student.
Reinforcing Virtues at Home
Montessori parents understand that learning doesn’t start and finish in the classroom. Children are constantly learning new things at all times, so each child’s learning experiences at school should be cohesive with their experiences at home. A good way to form this cohesion is through strong communication with your child’s teacher. It is essential for a parent to know when each virtue is being taught in the classroom. For example, if your child’s teacher communicates that honesty will be the virtue of the week, you could begin incorporating honesty practice at home simultaneously.
A good way to practice a virtue such as honesty is to use role play. Tell your child about a situation that they can easily understand and give them several options of choices they could make if they were put in that situation. Provide some choices that emphasize honesty more than other choices. Explain the possible benefits and consequences of each choice to your child and allow them to select the one that they believe is the best. In addition, explain to them why it is important to be honest in all situations, especially at home and in school.