Montessori and Martin
“The needs of mankind are universal. Our means of meeting them create the richness and diversity of the planet. The Montessori child should come to relish the texture of that diversity.” Maria Montessori
Montessorians have long recognized the contribution community service has in developing and educating the whole child. It was Dr. Montessori’s vision that a peaceful world, created by children raised with respect for their natural development, would make the world better and more peaceful. Service to the community is a corner stone of this belief and it manifests every day in a Montessori classroom. Students learn the joy of giving of themselves and develop compassion because of these real, practical life experiences. In the Montessori learning community we model and teach students to be stewards and caretakers of the Earth and all its inhabitants. By doing so, we create caring, empathetic students capable of thinking beyond themselves.
Service at School:
Community service, in the form of kindness and helpfulness, is accomplished at all levels and in all age groups in a Montessori school. In the Toddler House and 3 to 6-year-old Primary classrooms, children have opportunities every day to assist and serve their classmates. Helping a young friend take off a coat, showing concern for a classmate who misses his parents, reading to a classmate, showing a younger child how to do work, helping a classmate clean up a spill, preparing and serving a snack to others, sorting recycling, composting food scraps, and watering plants are just a few of the many ways in which children in a Montessori environment serve others, helping them build a foundation of compassion towards their fellow human beings and establish themselves in a cooperative, respectful community, both at school and out in the world.
As a school community, at GTMS, we also hold a Thanksgiving Food Drive, Holiday Gift Drive, the MLK Day of Service Project, and a Lemonade Stand benefitting local charities. These activities are an integral component of the expanded curriculum our Kindergarten students participate in. Along with Art, Lunch-around-the-World, and field trips they open these oldest student’s eyes to the wider world outside the classroom.
"The difference between what we are doing and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world's problems." Mahatma Gandhi
Service outside of school:
It can be challenging to find opportunities for very young children to participate in service activities outside of school and home but here are a few ways you can honor the spirit of the Dr. King, Gandhi, and Dr. Montessori every day with your young children.
* Clean out the closets. Children grow quickly and before you know it, clothes, toys, strollers, car seats, and books are outgrown. Gather these up and donate them to the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, the nursery at your place of worship, or simply take them to a thrift store so that another family can continue to enjoy them.
"What good shall I do this day?" Benjamin Franklin
* Many of us think about those in need at holiday times but in reality many families are hungry all year round and could use help at any time of the year. Take your children to the grocery store and let them help you select a bag of groceries to donate to a food bank or shelter.
Turning Points for Children accepts donations all year and focuses their efforts on Center City Families. You and your child can also help sort donations - which children LOVE to do. To learn more about how you can help at Turning Points, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network welcomes families to cook meals, serve meals, keep a family company in the shelter by bringing games to play, crafts to do and books to read (this is a family friendly opportunity.) www.philashelter.org
* The most meaningful service for children to take part in is to those they know. Do you have an elderly or infirmed neighbor or relative who would appreciate a hot meal or home baked cookies and a visit from a child? Do they have a pet that needs to be walked? Is there a sick friend cooped up indoors that would like some company or simply a card?
* Children can donate a portion of their allowance or do extra chores to “earn” money which can then be donated to a favorite charity. Parents can make a list of charities and talk about the work they do with the child. Then let your child choose which one they want to help. Some good causes for young children are Unicef, Heifer International, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Children can also participate in fundraising walks throughout the year!
* Plant flowers to beautify a school, park or other community area or clean up a playground (with proper supervision and safety considerations.)
Participating in these activities teaches children that although they are young, they can and do make a contribution to their community.