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Wheaton Montessori News

Foundations of Respectful Relationships

Categories: For Parents / Grace and Courtesy / Practical Life / The Montessori Difference / Why Montessori

In an authentic Montessori mixed-aged classroom, students will spend several years with the same core group of students.  At Wheaton Montessori School, your child will work with the same teaching team for three or four years in Primary and for six years in Elementary.  This extended time together allows for deep and meaningful relationships to form, conflicts to be solved, friendships to blossom, and respect to be earned.


Last week, we shared that self-advocacy is encouraged at Wheaton Montessori School.  Allowing and urging your children to develop these skills helps them to become a productive and respected member of their classroom community.



Forming Respectful Relationships that Last for Years

Just like in your adult life, your children have concentric circles of relationships here at school.  In our adult lives, we have people who are very close to us: parents, spouses, children, and extremely close friends.  Then, casual friends and acquaintances, co-workers and neighbors, followed by people we’ve only just met.  The underlying expectation in your life, as well as in your child’s “school life” in our classrooms where these same concentric relationships form, is that all people must be respectful, regardless of the relationship.


Lessons in self-advocacy and respecting their friends and classmates start the moment that your children walk through the door and continue every day for as long as your children are with us.  Elementary students and Junior High students build on the foundations laid during the Primary years.   Because students are together for so many years, they learn quickly that they must find ways to be respectful, kind, and work through conflict.  After all, you have the same classmates for several years!


These lessons are strengthened by repeated experiences in each classroom community: children here have a strong sense of feeling and being KNOWN by their teachers and classmates.  They have a sense of belonging and safety and feel that they play an important part in their community.  The students, together for many years at a time, know each other and learn to know each other’s needs: a hug, help, a listening ear, quiet time alone, or someone as company.


Here are a few things we do with all of our students to help foster healthy relationships, protect personal and private space, and teach your child how to self-advocate:

  • Children at all age-levels are invited to lessons. They are asked, “Are you available for…?”  They are asked for their consent and we give them a voice.  Their answers are heard – and respected.  They learn from the first day that their answers, positive or negative, will be heard by the adults in their community.
  • Grace and Courtesy: It’s more than just table manners. It’s how we respond to challenging behavior in others.  It’s how we respond to each other when we don’t get what we want.
    • We practice how to respectfully respond to a negative response and how to respectfully give a negative response.  If a child hears “no” from a friend, we help the student work through their disappointment while still honoring the “no.”
  • In Elementary, as students get older, we also spend time focusing on how to extricate yourself from a project, play, or interaction.  Requests to change or extricate oneself from a situation are not personal attacks.  Yes, it can be disappointing to the others, but it’s not personal.