The Importance of Ritual & Tradition

  A celebration of traditions and culture is central to the Montessori method of parenting and education.   Dr. Maria Montessori said, “The things…[the child] sees are not just remembered; they are part of his soul.”  Traditions establish our time and place in history, answering the questions, “Who am I?” and “Where do I come from?”  They help give a sense of direction, answering the question, “Where am I going?”  If you were to observe a Montessori classroom, you might see traditions such as birthdays and celebrations of special days and the passing of seasons.  There are daily rituals in the Montessori classroom as well, such as the recitation of the “wish” before meals and a classroom community song at morning circle time. 

winter solstice at preschool
An annual classroom celebration of winter solstice

      What types of rituals and traditions do you enjoy as a family? What are some rituals that you want to build with your family?  What are some rituals that you might want to stop observing? Young children enjoy sensorial experiences, and so you may consider the following as part of future celebrations and observances:

  • Crafting and making homemade objects
  • Special meals using a dedicated tablecloth or place setting; reading a related story or poem together before or after the meal; going around the table and sharing a favorite memory
  • Cooking and baking traditional foods
  • Generosity – a tradition of sharing with others as we celebrate as a family (delivering homemade goodies to friends and neighbors, visiting a nursing home an giving residents treat bags, making and donating tie-blankets, assembling shoeboxes with gifts for children in impoverished areas of the world, shopping for a family in need and delivering it to the family or organization)
  • Countdowns – children enjoy the anticipation of an event almost as much as the event itself! A countdown to favorite observances (birthdays, cultural or religious celebrations, for example) is a fun way for children to gain a sense of time and build excitement
  • Trips – an annual trip around a special day is a fun tradition to incorporate; while adults may want to explore a new location every time, young children love the predictability of revisiting the same places. It feels familiar, safe and comfortable, and is usually associated with happy memories!  An emotional attachment occurs to the location and the experiences shared there!
gingerbread house creation at preschool
Gingerbread house making, a classroom winter solstice tradition

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