This month at Eden Prairie Montessori we are learning about peace. We are exploring peace on a small scale in the classroom in how we interact with our friends and on a larger scale the unity that connects humanity, while our Montessori educators incorporate Peace Education activities throughout the prepared environment.
Maria Montessori is lovingly remembered for her contributions to the education of young children and is considered by many to be a founder of peace education. She believed that the root of peace lay in the education we give our children. Only when children are intentionally taught global citizenship, respect for diversity, and personal responsibility will they have the strength to refuse to blindly follow their leaders into war. When children can maintain the peacefulness with which they were born, they will expand the focus and motivation that will allow them to change the world.
Not only was peace so important to Maria Montessori and her teachings, but we think the world could use a little love and peace right now.
Here are some thoughtful ways you can help your children explore the concept of peace at home…
Start by defining the word “peace” with your children. Ask what they think it means; their answers will probably be very enlightening. They are often surprised to realize that peace can be found many places, and it doesn’t just refer to “world peace”. Encourage them to have a hand in creating a peaceful environment wherever they are.
It’s amazing how a little kindness goes a long way to setting the tone for the home.
Inner peace is often forgotten. Not only is yoga the perfect indoor exercise activity for young children, it helps build peace from the inside out! Yoga builds muscle strength, promotes concentration, and teaches the child the importance of physical exercise. This is also a healthy outlet for children with “extra energy”.
Have children participate in the care of their environment, showing respect for the materials, pets, plants, and other children. Children understand the importance of peace by learning to care for their home, as well as others around them. They want to be involved in work that is meaningful and has a specific purpose; work that allows them to be a beneficial member of the community.
Grace and courtesy are the framework for modeling peace. Displaying grace and courtesy give children the confidence they need to function independently in the community, and they are great tools for life. Here is a sampling of simple lessons to talk about and use at home:
- Asking for a hug
- How to blow your nose
- Greeting a visitor
- How/when to say “excuse me”
- Asking for help politely
- How to walk with scarcely making a sound
- How to tell someone you want to be alone
- Cleaning up your snack
- What to do if you’re really angry
- How to agree to disagree
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.
When learning about and meeting people of other cultures, emphasize respect for the diversity of traditions and customs found around the world.
Be a good example. Don’t argue with anybody in front of children. Speak respectfully about other people. Don’t gossip. Show kindness. It can be easy to forget that children are watching your every move, and learn more from what you do than what you say.
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.
Don’t waste time nursing a grudge. Let it go right away and get on with a loving relationship.
It seems obvious, but sometimes we forget how powerful love can be in our home.
“You have very truly remarked that if we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have the struggle, we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which, consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.”
-Mahatma Ghandi, to students at the Montessori Training College, London, 1931
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