“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” Maria Montessori
Promoting peace in the classroom is one of the most important things that we as educators can do. By promoting peace, children will feel safe, loved, nurtured, and ready to learn. They will have the freedom to make mistakes and to try things that they did not think they were capable of. Peace teaches children to accept others, it teaches children to respect the work of their peers, and it teaches them to look beyond themselves and to think about others.
All of these things are so important to cultivate in our young learners.
How Can You Set Up A Peaceful Classroom?
Preparing the Classroom Environment
The first thing that you can do to promote peace is by organizing your classroom. You can teach your students that the classroom is their space to learn and that it doesn’t just belong to you as the teacher, but it also belongs to them as the students. Share the responsibility of keeping your classroom neat and organized. In my classroom, every item has a specific place. I teach my students where things belong and how to care for the objects in the classroom. I also don’t have specific jobs for individual students. Instead, everyone is responsible. If pieces of paper are on the floor, we all work together to clean them up. If a child spills at snack time, students work together to clean up the spill. This instills in children that we can all work together. I also have a dust pan and wipes that are alcohol free so that the students can sweep up crumbs and wipe down the tables. My students really enjoy caring for our classroom environment! By having them partner with you in taking care of the classroom it creates a feeling of ownership and responsibility in your students.
Another way that I create an atmosphere of peace is by starting each day with a morning meeting. The school that I work at is a “Responsive Classroom” school and has really worked to promote peace throughout the entire school. Each and every day, my class sits in a circle and we greet each other. My students have learned how to look their friends in the eyes and to shake their hands properly. I wish I could show you pictures of how their eyes light up when they greet their peers. They love this routine and it makes them feel so good about themselves.
Sometimes when we pass around a handshake I will prompt my students to give their friends a compliment. They always say the sweetest things and build each other up. However, this did not just “happen.” During our morning meeting, I have read many books about friendship, cooperation, peace, love, and kindness to my students. We have practiced giving compliments and building each other up. More so, I model this again and again. I show my students how to use kind words, how to take care of our environment, and how to build up students with my words. I catch my students using good manners and saying nice things and praise them for these acts of kindness. It is so true that kindness inspires kindness.
Scholastic compiled a great list of books about peace. You can find them HERE.
Another way to promote peace is through songs and dance! Did you know that by playing quiet music set at 60 bpm actually relaxes people? If you play quiet, relaxing music when your students are working, the music will calm your students. If you have access to Youtube at your school, you can play these videos/songs during your “Working Time.”
One of my students’ favorite energizers with music is to give their friends a hug, handshake, or high-five to this song:
As many of you know, I teach at a Christian school. One day while we were doing this energizer, one of my sweet girls started hugging her friends and told each one, “I’m so happy that God made you.” Now, whenever we do this energizer, my students share compliments and sweet phrase like this with their peers. It makes my heart so happy that my students do this UNPROMPTED.
Promoting/teaching acceptance is another way to encourage peace. I teach my students that they are all special and that we need to be kind to everyone. I teach, model, and remodel what kindness looks like. I have a rule that “we are all friends” and while many teachers scoff when they hear this rule saying that it is not doable, I set it as our expectation and the way of life in our classroom. I teach my students how to resolve conflicts and how to be good friends. I teach them how to use kind words and how to take care of their friends. While they are not always perfect at this, they practice making kind choices. With this as the “tone” in our classroom, it helps promote peace and friendship.
Take A Break
One last way to promote peace in your classroom is to give your students the freedom to “Take a Break.” This is a Responsive Classroom practice that really works. In my classroom, I have a quiet place and comfy chair that my students can go to if they need to “reset” themselves. My students know that it is okay to need to recharge and that it is ok to take a break if they need to. By allowing students the freedom to do this, it helps them listen to what they need and encourages peace. To find out how to use the “take a break” method, you can read about it HERE.
I would love to hear some of the ways that you promote peace in your classroom! Comment below to share with others! I hope that you are having a great day!