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Nurturing Kindness

“Let us treat them [children], therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.”

Maria Montessori

One goal of Montessori education is to support a child’s social and emotional development. Grace and courtesy exercises are as important to the curriculum as learning letters and numbers. Montessori educators model empathy and respectful communication every day because fostering a sense of community in the classroom helps students develop emotional intelligence. For many children, school is the first opportunity outside their family to feel a sense of belonging. In the Montessori classroom, students are guided to develop practical life skills, pursue individual interests, and find their own voice while practicing compassion for others. Teachers maintain an ordered, peaceful environment to minimize conflicts and encourage collaborative efforts.

Montessori culture is fundamentally about working together in mutually supportive ways. And at the heart of the ethos is kindness. This goes beyond encouraging basic manners like saying “please” and “thank you.” The Montessori classroom is a safe space to discuss difficult or confusing feelings. Teachers engage students in role-playing a wide range of social situations, including how to effectively navigate disagreements. Being equipped to address their own needs with care while also being mindful of the feelings of others allows Montessori students to develop meaningful connections with peers, teachers, family members, and others in their community.

When someone leads with compassion, they reap significant personal benefits! Studies show that being kind boosts neurotransmitters like serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine, producing feelings of satisfaction and well-being. It also releases endorphins that can relieve pain and reduce stress. It’s a win-win situation for all involved!

So how do you nurture kindness in your Montessori child? Model warmth, empathy, and understanding, especially when they are feeling misunderstood or discouraged. Invite your child to consider different perspectives and other people’s feelings. Encourage group activities to experience working toward a mutual goal and cooperative play to practice taking turns.

There are as many ways for your child to be kind as there are opportunities for them to practice kindness. Here are some ideas to discuss and consider.

  1. Hold the door open for others.

  2. Draw a picture or make a card for a sibling or parent.

  3. Pick up litter in the neighborhood.

  4. Donate clothes, books, toys, or art supplies to a shelter.

  5. Put a bird feeder in the garden, or feed the birds at a local pond.

  6. Ask someone how they are feeling.

  7. Offer to rake leaves, pick up sticks, or mow the lawn of a neighbor.

  8. Let a friend go before you in a game.

  9. Offer to help someone with schoolwork or a project.

  10. Write a letter or send a postcard to someone you haven’t seen in a while.

  11. Help a sibling with their chores.

  12. Lend a friend a book.

  13. Offer someone a hug when they seem sad.

  14. Tell someone why they are special to you.

  15. Visit an assisted living or nursing home facility.

  16. Teach someone a new skill you just learned.

  17. Leave a heart made of pebbles on the sidewalk.

  18. Bake treats to share with friends or neighbors.

  19. Pick up dropped items and return them to the owner.

  20. Make friendship bracelets for your classmates.

  21. Write notes of appreciation to bus drivers, mail carriers, teachers aides, hair stylists, coaches, nurses, store clerks, and anyone who helps you.

  22. Invite someone new to play with you.

  23. Compliment someone.

  24. Make homemade bookmarks and leave them in library books.

  25. Return a shopping cart to the designated spot.

  26. Tell a joke or a funny story to someone who needs cheering up.

  27. Give your friend a high five.

  28. Draw happy pictures on the sidewalk with chalk.

  29. Be a good listener.

  30. Write a poem for a friend.

  31. Set the table when it’s not your turn.

  32. Check in on an elderly neighbor.

  33. Play a game you know your sibling enjoys.

  34. Plant flowers in a community garden.

  35. Recycle.


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