As we wake up from the longest night of the year, I thought I would illuminate our work on peace education. This is such an integral part of our Montessori classrooms, but it can be so hard to talk about because we are immersed in it.
Dr. Montessori was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She believed that every child has the potential to change the world. She believed that it is the work of the Montessori teacher to guide the children towards this ideal. Peace begins from the inside and radiates out. In our classrooms, children are learning deeply about themselves. They are understanding their strengths and challenges, and figuring out that it is an amazing thing to be a human with all of the mistakes and victories that are inherent to our condition. Our hope is that this atmosphere of caring and respect helps every child becomes a confident, self-assured, self-aware person. This is hard work for children! Actually, I think it's a lifetime of work for most people!
This year, we are supporting this internal work one-on-one with children and also exploring it in two formal, structured ways.
Ms. Jessica, the mother of Ira (1st Grade), is our Mindfulness teacher. She comes once a week for a 30 minute session. The goals of mindfulness work involve the strengthening of compassion for others, cultivating peace and learning loving-kindness.
We’ve had eight sessions with Ms. Jessica. The children have been doing some very wonderful work with her. Some her topics include: Mindful awareness through the senses, discovering how interconnected we are to the world around us, mindful breathing in response to the bell, sending wishes, strengthening our compassion for others by making “Peace Flags” that will hang in the classroom.
Twice a week, we are working with the book Talkabout for Children, Developing Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem by Alex Kelly. Our Talkabout work is fun for the kids; this enables them to learn more and feel motivated for the sessions. We do Talkabout twice a week for 30 minutes each session. Both Turquesa and Morado are loving their experiences with Talkabout!
Each lesson follows a routine format, which helps the children feel safe, secure and comfortable. We start with a Group Cohesion activity - this brings the group together and helps them focus on the purpose of the group. Then we move on to How am I feeling? which encourages children to explore and discuss their feelings. We follow this with the Main Activity and a Finishing Activity which helps the children leave the session in a happy, relaxed frame of mind.
So far, we have covered two different topics: This is Me! and People In My Life. During the remainder of the school year, we will be exploring these Talkabout topics: The Way I Look, What Am I Like? , My Qualities and Strengths, Things that Make Me Feel Good, The Way I Feel and I Am Great!
We are already seeing the benefits in both Mindfulness and Talkabout, as the children are becoming increasingly self-aware and articulate about themselves and each other. These two efforts are building a deep and solid community of children. We hope that your have been hearing about both Mindfulness and Talkabout at home.
We hope that you have a happy Winter Break, full of mindful moments and joy.
Peace and Happy New Year,
Nicole and the Elementary teaching team
Ms. Nicole & Ms. Alyx
El Salon Turquesa Co-Lead Teachers