Something that I have learned throughout both of my trainings is that, as Montessori Guides, we have the opportunity to show students how to be caretakers of the Earth. With this opportunity, we guide students to recognize they have empathy and are capable of thinking about others besides themselves. In the Third Great Story of the Elementary, The Coming of Human Beings, we tell the story of the three gifts that make humans, humans. These gifts are: the gift of hands to work with, play, and eat; the gift of imagination and the ability to question; and the gift of love and to have love for others. Community service is one demonstration of these three gifts. Community service integrates the academic and behavioral lessons that are learned within the Montessori concept of Cosmic Education. By teaching this responsibility, children of all ages learn the value of being a contributing member of society.
It was Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision that a peaceful world, created by children, would make the world a better place. As guides, we know that by showing and performing community service, we are helping to develop and educate the whole child. The child, from an early age, learns the joy of giving, and throughout the Montessori experience, the child then develops compassion through real, practical life volunteer opportunities. Community service can be done at all levels and age groups in a Montessori School. Primary and Elementary students are capable of visiting residents of assisted living facilities. They can bake cookies or bread, make special art projects and decorations, and even read books to their new friends. They can also take part in food, toy, or coat drives to help out charities. Doing so teaches them that although they are young, they can and do make a meaningful contribution to their community.
The Upper Elementary students can function more independently. They can be tutors and mentors for the younger students, demonstrating Dr. Montessori’s vision of peer learning. They also have the ability to embrace greater responsibility in their community service efforts. As some of our Elementary students have done, they can volunteer at animal shelters and create fundraisers to help charities. The students have even helped me raise donations for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.
Students learn by observing the world around them. Therefore, it is important that parents and other family members model a commitment to giving back to the community. As adults, we can take an active role to involve our families in our communities. I would love to hear your ideas of different community service projects that we can do for all levels of the school - Primary and Elementary.