It is possible to teach peace to kids. In fact, kids are born with it. It is our job to nurture the natural tendencies and help them grow.
“The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities.” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Montessori Peace Curriculum
Lately, I have been pondering about my role – as a parent and educator – in my child's character development. Obviously, we play a huge role. So, I want the impact to be positive. I want to raise responsible, respectful and independent children. One way I have been thinking about this idea is through my Montessori lens.
How do we not FAIL at bringing peace into our homes and our classrooms?
A great starting point is to work really hard to understand, to be thoughtful and to be mindful of our role in the presence of a child. Our “aura” or “vibe”, for lack of better descriptive words, really do matter a lot. The impact can be powerful & negative or it can be powerful & positive. You pick.
Creating a sense of urgency around our role is important because it is so meaningful to our child's state of being at that time, that day and subsequently his learning.
Here are a few bullet points I've collected over the past few months as I have thought more about my role in educating my sons as a parent and an educator.
Teaching Peace to Kids Requires Parents and Teachers to:
- Be Proactive – Not only in preparing your classroom but in introducing topics that will be much more difficult to tackle as your child grows older. For example, don't wait to discuss diversity, introduce the topic early by simply pointing out that people are different physically in nature, then move into the deeper different.
- Be Self Aware – What are the qualities that you might want to emphasize or manage in your own temperament? For me, I tend too be way too passionate (if there is such a thing) so I rush along an activity, etc. I should take control of that quality and allow my child to lead the learning at his own speed. Then if something goes awry, I might be a bit anxious about it and that impacts the learning and my boys' behavior in a big way.
- Actively Listen – Acknowledge and respond to your child. Listen to his words.
- Be Compassionate
- Model Empathy and Respect in ALL encounters
- Reflectively Listen – State “I see that you seem upset…”
- Use Soft Words – Words like “confused”, “frustrated” and “overwhelmed”. Be careful of heavy words like “angry”.
- Don't Forget to Use Positive Words – Examples include “encouraged” and “happy”. So, “I feel very encouraged when you help your classmate” or “I support your words”.
- Ask a lot of Questions – Examples include “How did that make you feel?” and “Did you speak to him about it?” and “Would you like some help speaking to him?” or “How does your body feel right now?”
- Empower Children to Solve Problems – In other words, don't jump in to solve the problem for them. Check out this post I wrote on Conflict Resolution and this one on Toddler Communication for more concrete guidance on this one.
- Honor their Spirits – Pretty generally if they are energetic, find a way to embrace that quality. If they are introverted, allow them space to be that way.
- Use Positive Phrases – “Use your walking feet” instead of “Don't run” or “Please be careful with my body” instead of “Don't hurt me” or “use ‘I' like “I feel happy when you help me. Please ask me again sometime.”
- Sing songs about peace
I look forward to exploring ways to integrate peace learning into our home. I will be so happy to share these ideas with you.
Thank you for choosing to read this post. I hope we inspired you today!