For elementary students, citizenship lessons help teach cooperation and interaction. Once acquired, citizenship skills will carry throughout the student’s life. In its simplest form, citizenship means following the Golden Rule – treating others fairly with the expectation of being treated fairly in return. There are six basic components to citizenship:
The cornerstone of good citizenship is honesty. This includes being honest with others as well as yourself. A good citizen does not try to lie, cheat, or steal from others. An honorable person is one who can be trusted, a critical factor in learning to get along in society.
Coupled with honesty, compassion forms the rest of the Golden Rule. Compassion means to use empathy, understanding how others feel and react. Compassion ranges from simple consideration for someone who is feeling ill to generosity in assisting someone who is unable to perform a task alone. It is also important to learn that compassion extends beyond immediate surroundings, encompassing your community, people from other races or religious beliefs, and even understanding and caring for all living things.
Learning to accept that you cannot always get what you want can be a tough lesson for young students. Self-discipline includes controlling behavior such as blurting out answers without being called on, avoiding emotional outbursts such as crying or getting angry, and following through on goals and obligations. Self-discipline comes from honesty and compassion, and results in being able to master respect and responsibility.
Respect for others means addressing people of authority correctly, such as saying “Yes, sir,” or “No ma’am.” It also means being understanding of someone’s property, culture, or disabilities. You do not have to agree with someone or something, but you should disagree respectfully. Self-respect is important as well, and that means learning to feel good about yourself and ignoring urges to cause yourself pain or unnecessary confrontation.
Responsibility means doing what is expected of you, even when you do not want to do it. Examples of responsibility include behaving courteously, doing homework, and always acting appropriately. When someone else is doing something they should not be doing, we have a responsibility to refrain from joining in, as well as making sure that the proper authority figures are aware. For example, if someone is stealing from your friend, you should notify an adult rather than participating in the theft or even fighting with the person who is stealing.
Courage combines all of the other traits of good citizenship and helps every student learn to be a better person. Courage means reporting theft or bullying to a teacher even though other students may call you names. Courage also means you standing up for what is right, such as refusing to allow a bully to ridicule you or someone who is differently abled. Courage means rising to meet a challenge despite obstacles, but it also means being able to resist being lured into fights or bullying yourself.
At Montessori School of Pleasanton, we teach our students to be upstanding citizens. Our teachers embrace our diverse cultures and backgrounds and actively engage students in learning about the world around us. To experience the Montessori difference firsthand, call us today to schedule a tour.