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heather-siple-read-aloud-011What happens when you don’t get what we want? How do you react? Is it a feeling of hopelessness, or is it a challenge to shift your behavior or reach out to someone? This week has been a challenging time for many. Election day brought results that caused some to rejoice and others to cringe.

No matter your politics, one of the biggest lessons we all need to learn is how to be gracious. Whether we win or lose, our reaction is what sets us apart. Children have ample opportunities to learn this on the sports field, in the classroom and at home. Playing games typically results in someone winning. We’ve all had the experience of the winner gloating and the loser storming off. The challenge that we face when we enter a contest of any sort is to handle ourselves with grace and courtesy, a central aspect of Montessori education. Our days are filled with ways to practice kindness, courtesy and, yes, manners. We teach children to look each other in the eye, to shake hands and introduce themselves to guests, and to apologize when they have hurt another’s feelings.

It’s easy to be a kind winner or a sore loser. It’s a lot harder to be a winner who reaches out to the people on the other team and congratulates them for participating in the game, for giving it their all, and for being a worthy opponent. A good contest is satisfying and rewarding. Though the Cleveland Indians lost the World Series to the Chicago Cubs, both teams gave it their all; the games allowed sports fan to see some of the best baseball games played in a long time.

Winning feels great. Losing, not so much. How will we move forward after an election that was not the best example of grace and courtesy? How will we guide our students and children to help them learn how to behave when things don’t go their way? What example will we set?