Can we teach kids peace? The most recent years have been violent close to home. Dr. Maria Montessori always emphasized children as being an integral part of the peace process. It seems that the present time is calling for a focus on that teaching again.
“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” ~ Dr. Montessori
Dr. Montessori's peace “curriculum” drew me in immediately. The approach makes sense. There are three levels of experiencing peace: world peace, community peace, and inner peace. How beautiful to recognize the levels of peace within one's life? World peace is a big topic full of politics and inequality. Community (or in our children's case classroom) peace celebrates the ability to resolve conflict, while inner peace pays attention to the needs within one's self whatever those needs may be.
In the United States this month we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..The topics of peace, justice, and equality are opportunities for us adults to begin dialogues with our children, the leaders of tomorrow. Dr. Montessori's ideas for the classroom are as relevant today as they ever were for children and for teachers. Below are a few ideas to get you started on bringing peace into your home or classroom.
11 Ways to Teach Kids Peace
- Natural light – This idea seems simple but packs a huge punch in energy levels.
- Plant life – Caring and understanding plants is a big step toward compassion and kindness.
- Practice gratitude – Ask questions to get children thinking about their ideas around gratitude.
- Reduce waste – A healthy environment is a powerful message to keeping the peace with Mother Earth. Understanding how to care for the environment and its needs depending on the habitat carves the way for peace making.
- Silence game – A classic Montessori work for the early childhood classroom. See this post on the Silence Activity for more details!.
- Prepare yourself – Most of us adults forget to evaluate ourselves before diving into influencing the lives of young children. Taking a spiritual journey is a requirement of Montessori training. Preparing yourself for the classroom in general is critical. I wrote about preparing ourselves for the classroom in this post a while ago.
- Teach kids courage – Cultivating peace or pursuing peace is a big job that requires loads of courage. I researched the BEST books to teach children about courage, not matter your definition of courage. One of my most popular posts over the last two years, I think you will enjoy the ideas.
- Books to teach kids peace – Along the same vein as courage, teaching kids about peace can be a paralyzing start. What a big topic? Where do we begin? That is precisely why I came up with this list of books to teach kids about peace.
- Yoga cards – Inner peace is often forgotten. How can we teach our children to self-regulate in a way that honors their emotions as strong as they may be? Integration meditation into the daily routine is a huge step in the right direction. The ABC Yoga Cards for Kids are a phenomenal way to ignite a child's desire to want meditation to be a daily part of his life.
- Quiet corner – No matter who we are, a quiet corner is a must. Even the most extroverted person needs a space where she can slow down her engine. Creating a go to quiet corner is key in a child's environment whether at home or in the classroom. All it takes is a few pillows or a comfy chair, a window or natural light, maybe a book, maybe a plant, maybe a blanket, maybe headphones with easy listening music…the possibilities for a quiet corner are seemingly endless.
- Outdoor quiet space – Just as important as the indoor space for calm is an outdoor space. Have each child identify a sitting spot where he or she can go to simply be. We have a family sitting spot in our yard but also have designated individual sitting spots around our outdoor space. Kids take ownership, name the space, and decorate the space as they see fit. Truly lovely!
What are your ideas?