Montessori Education Week Celebrations

prior lake childrens house
Some of our Prior Lake Children’s House students and teachers, pictured with Mayor Briggs (L) and City Manager Wedel (R)
lakeville childrens house
Some of our Lakeville Children’s House students pictured with Chamber of Commerce President, Krista Jech (Rear, Left) and Lakeville Mayor, Doug Anderson (Rear, Center).
young boy celebrating

Our special guests received a tour, met our owners, Kylie Schrader and Jessica Johnsen, as well as our regional managers, Michele Burns and Melissa Semira, and enjoyed tea and cucumber sandwiches with the Children’s House students and teachers.  The children also enjoyed story time with books read by our guests!  We were honored to share our Montessori Education Week celebrations with our community and show them what makes the Montessori method so special!

boy making floral arrangements

To prepare for the High Tea, our Children’s House students cut and made floral arrangements, set tables, and practice the Montessori Tea practical life activity.  They also practiced their grace and courtesy lessons: how to greet and welcome visitors, as well as table and teatime etiquette.  They then helped with table arrangements including place settings and prepared delicious finger sandwiches to accompany the tea. 

During the high tea, they served our guests, and then we enjoyed tea and conversation together.  The children were so proud of their accomplishments, and that they got to share them with our city representatives!

Why is teatime observed in the Montessori classroom? 

Many Montessori schools incorporate teatime as a practical life activity.  While teatime is a rare occasion in our society, it is still observed in many other countries across the globe.  In addition, the skills children learn from this activity carry over to every other part of our classroom as well as into other social interactions.

The work involves:

  • Carrying a tray and balancing its contents and navigating obstacles while walking
  • Dry (tea leaves) and wet (water) pouring
  • Whole-hand and finger grasping with the tray, tea pot, cup, tea bag and the preparation of the tea snacks, which include spreading and cutting
  • Care of environment: carefully pulling chairs out and pushing them in, returning materials to a shelf
  • Grace and courtesy lessons: greeting guests, inviting a friend to join them for a snack, conversing with a friend at the table, and table manners
  • Independence and confidence-building activities: children feel such a sense of pride for their accomplishments of preparing for and executing teatime
  • Concentration as children carry out the task with multiple steps from beginning to end

Montessori instructors Lindsay Seeley, Alison Ney and Cameron Sesto, in their book Spring Tea, say: “Many cultures around the world stop for tea. It is a time to slow down, talk with one another, and renew the spirit.  For children it can be a time to teach life skills, manners and socialization.”

teacher and children learning at preschool

“There is such pride for children to get to host a guest, serve food that they have prepared and then be trusted to carry the beautiful, fragile teacup.  Shared social experiences follow. Children learn to chat and make polite conversation. They feel the empowerment of saying, please, thank you and may I get you some more? The children feel affirmed!”

How can parents provide opportunities like this at home?

Parents can provide opportunities for their child to participate when hosting friends and family at home.  When guests are expected, they might ask, “What can my child do to prepare for our guests?”  It might be picking up his or her toys, slicing cucumbers, stirring batter, or setting the table – and, when guests leave, inviting the child to dry or put away the dishes while the parent washes, tucking chairs under the table or wiping down the table. 

It’s about creating opportunities for the child to be involved in the family’s daily life and routines, which does wonders for their confidence and independence!  It also lays the groundwork for a lifetime of joyful involvement in family life, and an acceptance and understanding that families work together and help each other. 

man and daughter

Parents can also provide opportunities for their child to practice grace and courtesy at home by role-playing greeting people and providing opportunities to use what is practiced in their daily lives.  For example, when friends come over to play, parents can encourage their child to greet the adults before running off with their friend.  Or, when the parent bumps into an acquaintance at the store, they can introduce them to their child.  “Johnny, this is my friend, ________.”  To which, the child can respond,  “Hello, Mr. _________.  My name is ______. I’m pleased to meet you!”  

What is the Montessori approach to teaching children how to greet others and introduce themselves?

young girl smiling

The Montessori way of teaching the greeting is as follows:

  • When greeting a guest, we look them in the eye to let them know they have our full attention.
  • We smile, to let them know we are pleased to see them.
  • We offer them our right hand to shake, and say, “Hello/Good Morning/Good Afternoon/Good Evening ___________.  How are you today?”
  • We encourage the polite response: “I’m well, _________. How are you?” 
  • The rejoinder is: “I’m well, ________, thank you for asking.”
  • We also encourage children to use a title for adults, such as “Mr. John” or “Ms. Sarah”. We also model this respect in our classrooms by referring to other adults the same way we expect children to refer to them.
  • When introducing ourselves, we follow the above guidelines but also teach the children to introduce themselves and express their pleasure at meeting the other person. “Hello, my name is __________. It’s nice to meet you!”

Why does Montessori emphasize grace & courtesy at such a young age?

Those early childhood years are what Maria Montessori calls the time of the “absorbent” mind.  Children are like sponges, absorbing information from their environment and forming an understanding of how the world works.   Dr. Montessori understood that these formative years were essential not just for cognitive and physical development, but also for social and emotional development. 

While our tendency is to dismiss our children as “too young”, we might not understand that we often unconsciously exclude them from facets of our life that they look on with curiosity, eagerness and longing.  They very much want to be a part of the adult world, and are far more capable than we give them credit for! 

When we model, encourage and provide opportunities for our children to practice grace and courtesy, we are first telling them with our words and actions that they are valued and respected.  They will automatically then give others the same value and respect.  The social graces are about fostering a love and respect for all mankind, which is at the heart of what many Montessori schools call “global citizenship”, and is essential to bringing peace to our world.

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into what is sure to be  one of the highlights of our Children’s House students’ school year: the Montessori Education Week High Tea!

young girl making floral arrangments


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