In a Montessori school system, our primary focus is the whole child. As part of developing all of the elements of the whole child, the Montessori Method concentrates on educating the human potential. Through character education, we are able to help each child unlock their personal potential. Virtue education allows each child to explore the field of morality and learn to discriminate between good and bad.
Virtues are universal and are recognized by people of all cultures. They are necessary for a child’s well-being and happiness. Once they are learned, they will last the child a lifetime.
Here are some examples of important virtues we teach in a Montessori learning environment:
Wisdom, courage, perseverance, honesty, kindness, patience, helpfulness, humility, compassion, hard work, creativity, independence, confidence, respectfulness, grace, courtesy, sociability, responsibility, self-sufficiency, curiosity, joyfulness, gratitude, and service.
All of these virtues help build a child’s character and inspire others around them to be better people.
In ‘The Discovery of the Child’, Dr. Maria 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.”
In order to develop these virtues, we expose our children to stories and experiences that model them. We make sure that our guides make it a point to display these virtues on a daily basis, so they serve as role models to the students. We also concentrate on positive activities in order to prevent the formation of negative traits. In a Montessori environment, bad habits such as laziness and disorder are quickly replaced by good qualities such as self-sufficiency and hard work.
Cultivating virtues leads a child to develop a more purposeful life. In Montessori classrooms, students learn virtues like service and helpfulness by participating in practical life activities. Such exercises include teaching children to care for the environment and peer to peer collaboration, in which an older student helps a younger student.
Understanding that learning does not start and finish in the classroom is essential for parents. Montessori parents want to support the development of the whole child. Children are learning at all times, so the child’s learning experiences at home and at school should be cohesive. One way to form this cohesion is through communication with your child’s teacher (guide).
It is important for you to know when and which virtues are being taught in class. For instance, if you find out from your child’s teacher that honesty is being covered in class next week, you should find ways to incorporate practicing honesty at home also.
Role play is a great way to do this. Explain situations that your child can easily understand. Give your child various options of choices they can make in that situation. Be sure to provide some choices that emphasize honesty more than others. Then, discuss your child’s choices, and the possible consequences of each choice. Discuss why it is important to be honest both at home and in school.