Photos above, clockwise from top left – The Peace Rose book, a great tool for teaching respectful conflict resolution, yoga cards for individual yoga practice, oil timers – an aid to relaxation, and yoga flow – learning to listen to the breath to restore calm and peace
Ms. Jane suggested that each month we focus on a quote to inspire discussions around the lunch table and during staff meetings. As all of the classrooms have been focusing on peace, Ms. Jane chose this quote from Maria Montessori: “Establishing a lasting peace is the work of education.” After seeing the rise of Mussolini in her own country of Italy and living through World Wars I and II, Maria Montessori devoted a lot of time to the topic of peace education during the latter part of her life. She believed, as do I, that our children are the hope for a lasting peace. When they are young, they are forming beliefs and attitudes and developing skills. Through education at home and school, we hope those attitudes include compassion, empathy, acceptance, fairness, and an appreciation for diversity. We hope the skills they develop include problem-solving skills.
So how are our teachers and children focusing on peace within their classrooms and our school?
On Wednesday, September 21st, on Peace Day, our school joined schools all across the world in singing a song for peace. We sang it in the morning, so we could include our youngest students from Oak Room, and again in the afternoon. We joined hands in a big circle, sang Light a Candle for Peace and passed around a globe. We talked about how children from many countries would also be singing the same song in their own languages, too. We were all taking the time out of our busy day to celebrate and hope for peace.
What you can do, at home and school:
Create an atmosphere of welcome and acceptance in your classroom and/or home, so that children develop the quality of acceptance of diversity. Mr. Abe, lead teacher in Oak Room for two year olds, added, We are going to be inviting parents into the classroom to spend the morning with us to focus on family, culture and peace. We have families that speak Chinese, Korean and English at home. This will create a warm, welcome and accepting environment as we get to know each other.
Learn to share your thoughts without hurting feelings or shouting: Ms. Jane, Aspen Room for 3- 6 year olds, writes, We have learned a lot about friendships and how to share our thoughts with each other, without hurting feelings or shouting. We have shared friendship stories from my favorite set of books, the dinofours. The main characters are four year old dinosaurs who go to preschool and have some of the same issues that we too have as a class. I love sharing these friendship stories. Please do look out for books focused on friendship, sharing feelings and resolving conflicts respectfully. Thanks.
Use tools to help children learn how to relax, meditate, solve problems, appreciate silence and solitude: Ms. Tessa, Willow Room for 3 – 6 year olds, adds, We talk about peace on a daily basis in Willow Room, and we practice peace, too. We use materials such as the peace rose book to problem solve, the oil timers to relax (They are so beautiful to watch!), and we have a special stool which is reserved for a child when he or she wants to be alone and undisturbed. These materials help our children learn to take time to be quiet and calm and undisturbed. They are learning early how to take a minute or two for a mental health break! We also use important words, like respect, friendship, calm, quiet.
In addition, we do yoga before every group circle time. Yoga is a fine way to learn to listen to our minds and bodies, and to learn to use our breath to bring peace, quiet and calm.
Help children recognize the words and attitudes of peace: Ms. Sudha, Maple Room for 5 – 8 year olds, says, Peace Education is the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment. In the first two weeks, we learned about grace and courtesy lessons, which led to lessons on peace. We have discussed the value of peace in education, peace words and peacemakers. Children are adopting peace mentally, physically and emotionally within themselves. Maple students are making a peace book where they write all the peace words that we use in our daily lives. Peace in education is practicing problem solving and conflict resolution, being loving and caring, being confident, independent, kind and polite, and being respectful of living things and nature.
Thanks, teachers, for sharing your thoughts on peace education.