Harmony between people is part of the social skills and conflict resolution that is the gist of any Montessori Tides classroom. Establishing “ground rules” with the help of the children is vital at the beginning of each school year. Role-play and discussion is done throughout the school year to help keep these established rules on the forefront of each child’s mind. This way, children know how they should treat others and how they should expect to be treated.
Teachers and parents are encouraged to be watchful observers of child/child interaction. Sometimes adult intervention is necessary. This is especially seen more in the toddler program. Mrs. DeAnne, Toddler Lead Directress, points out, “In the toddler classroom, the adult is the primary model”. Other times, behavior can be addressed through peer mentoring, at line time or group time without mentioning names; situations can be presented to the class for input and resolution. Children find brainstorming about ways to resolve conflict to be pleasurable; having them think of their own solutions means they are much more likely to implement and extend them.
Kathy Graham shared a child/child interaction one day that’s simply fitting to this topic. It was Midyear; a new child entered her Primary classroom. At this point, the child was still learning how to adapt to the freedom within limits. This particular day, he was running through the classroom, clearly displaying opposite behavior of the established “ground rules”. With a watchful eye, Mrs. Kathy, decided this would be a good time to intervene, when one of his peers from the classroom knelt down, made eye contact, and literally, pointed out to the child, “Look around you. Do you see anyone else running? We walk in the classroom.” Needless to say, he was responsive to his fellow mentor who graciously helped establish the ground rule.
This is just one example of how the multi-age level classroom aids in establishing a positive atmosphere where grace and courtesy can grow naturally. It allows the children to mentor one another and be the role model. “These positive role models” Kathy Graham said, “are paramount in the continual development of grace and courtesy”. In the same way we follow road signs to help guide us in our travels, children are guided by the many signs (adult, peers, and self-correcting material) in their daily environment. Therefore, through continual modeling; imitation becomes character.