This year we have started a new tradition, an annual peace ceremony. Early last week we had a gathering of all the children and faculty for this sacred ceremony. The event was marked by the sharing of class peace promises and songs. Each peace promise was comprised of a list of agreed-upon commitments from the children about how they would treat each other and how to resolve problems peacefully. As children grow and mature their ability to navigate conflict gets more sophisticated, but by starting with very young children who demonstrate empathy and kindness, the opportunity to develop this mindset has huge social payoffs.
Peace education is a foundational principle underlying the Montessori philosophy. It is our goal to help children think about how they act and respond to situations and that their behavior can make a difference. The beauty of a peace ceremony is to help children focus their attention and to begin to understand the important role each of us plays in promoting a peaceful world. Here are some of the ways we promote peace in our classrooms:
- Teach strategies and skills for age-appropriate (constructive) problem solving
- Foster a sense of community among the children
- Establish a safe climate where acts of bullying are not tolerated
- Being respectful to one another and individual beliefs
- Develop language that helps us express feelings and ideas
- Expose children to the world’s geographies and cultures and to gain an understanding that we are a part of a global community and to
- Teach children how to care for the environment and to preserve our fragile planet
Montessori boldly stated “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education” and as our children go out into the world, their stewardship for the planet and ambassadorship for peace will hopefully make a profound difference. As families, you can help to support constructive problem-solving, instill calm, and find ways to encourage your child to show random acts of kindness as situations present themselves.