Peace: An Integral component of the Montessori curriculum

“Establishing enduring peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of the war.”

– Dr. Maria Montessori

Peace is a core component of the Montessori curriculum. Dr. Maria Montessori is considered to be the ‘founder of peace education’, in addition to her contributions to the early childhood education. She believed that children must be provided lessons on global citizenship, diversity, equality , unity etc.

After surviving two world wars and spending a lifetime observing the development of children, Montessori understood the link between education of our younger generation and world peace.

She held “Peace conferences” in many European countries from 1932-1939, which was later published as “Education and Peace” in English. Dr. Montessori was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, 1950 and 1951. She received a total of 6 nominations.

In Education for a New World (1947), Maria Montessori wrote:

But humanity is not yet ready for the evolution that it desires so ardently, the construction of a peaceful and harmonious society that shall eliminate war. Men are not sufficiently educated to control events, so become their victims. Noble ideas, great sentiments have always found utterance, but wars have not ceased! If education were to continue along the lines of mere transmission of knowledge, the problem would be insoluble and there would be no hope for the world… we have before us in the child a psychic entity, a social group of immense size, a veritable world-power if rightly used. If salvation and help are to come, it is from the child, for the child is the constructor of man, and so of society. The child is endowed with an inner power which can guide us to a more luminous future. Education should no longer be mostly about the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities.”

How does Montessori method of Education teach ‘Peace’?

  1. There is one of each material in the classroom- this helps children practice taking turns, patiently waiting or choosing to work with another material until that one becomes available, restoring them back to its original form to make it available for other children in the classroom. This helps teach patience, care of environment, social skills and respect for others.
  2. Grace & Courtesy: This is an integral part of Montessori curriculum. Guides model appropriate language, provide lessons on Grace & courtesy through the day, offer conflict resolution tips and guidance to help children navigate their social environment. Practicing kind words like Please and thank you, helping other children, preparing the classroom environment, restoring the environment for the next day are all simple ways that children contribute in maintaining peace.
  3. Care of Environment: This is a key component of “Practical life exercises”. Children take care of watering plants, sweeping and cleaning, leaf polishing, feeding classroom pets etc which helps them feel a sense of belonging to the community and helps maintain a ‘clean & calm’ environment that translates to peace amongst different components of the prepared environment.
  4. Guides: Dr. Montessori believed in the ‘spiritual preparation’ of the adult. As she stated in her book, ‘The Absorbent Mind’ , “The real preparation for education is a study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit.” She believed in having the guides connect with their hearts which helps nurture the children’s inner lives and create more peace in the environment.
  5. Cultural studies: Dr. Montessori emphasized the importance of the study of the world we live in. Children are given lessons on the continent map, flags of the world, people, food, landforms etc. Montessori classrooms also study and celebrate different holidays which instils tolerance and respect for other cultures.

By incorporating purposeful movement in the Montessori lessons, practical life activities to help children take care of themselves and others, including their environment, having activities like silence game/walking on the line, making a maze with the Sensorial material called Red rods and walking inside it to practice balance- children are provided a variety of options to practice inner peace. That’s why there is general sense of calm and quiet in the Montessori classroom, which inturn helps the children in the process of normalization & self-regulation.

Yoga, Peace corner, Reading center, Art center and music are other ways Montessori education helps children calm themselves and be peaceful with themselves and others in the environment.

Book Recommendations on the Topic of “Peace” for young children

The Peace book by Todd Parr

Have you filled a bucket today? By Carol McCloud

I am Peace: A book of mindfulness by Susan Verde

Our Peaceful classroom by Aline D. Wolf

Can you say Peace? by Karen Katz

Peace song

“Light a candle for Peace’ for Shelley Murley is a lovely song to practice with children at school /home. The lyrics are easy for young children.

Ways to help children be peaceful

Verbalize and validate children’s feelings, provide them calming techniques like deep breathing, provide them vocabulary and tools to help navigate situations including taking turns, conflict resolution, big emotions and feelings etc.

For example, you could use props like flower, feather, bubble etc to practice deep breathing with children – this helps reduce heart rate and relieve muscle tension, making them more receptive to listen to others.

Verbalizing how they feel like “I understand you are upset that Joe took your toy” or “I see you are sad we need to leave now” gives them an impression that they were heard, their feelings were validated and then the calming process can begin.

Listening to soft music, practicing silence game, meditation, Reading books, defining the term “Peace”, learning about other cultures, being out in nature, gardening etc. are other ways to help children understand the concept and learn about being ‘Peaceful’.

International Day of Peace

It is a United Nations sanctioned holiday observed annually on September 21. It is dedicated to world peace with emphasis on absence of war and violence. This holiday was celebrated for the first time in 1981 and continues to garner more support and reach as the years go by.

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace bell is rung at the UN headquarters in New York City. The phrase “Long live absolute world peace” is marked on the bell.

Each year there is a specific theme for the Peace day celebration. The theme for ‘2021’ is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world”.

Most schools celebrate this day and use it as an opportunity to help guide young children learn the importance of “Peace”.

Resources:

Happy International Day of Peace!

“…establishing peace is the work of education” – Maria Montessori

This week, and every day, we celebrate peace. Peace is a fundamental principal integrated into our daily curriculum in the Montessori classroom.

On Wednesday, we celebrated International Day of Peace. We talked about ways we can help be peaceful in the classroom and at home. We made special “peace pinwheels” to carry on our peace parade. A few children pin-pricked peace doves or peace signs to help commemorate the holiday. We read books, practiced yoga, sang songs and enjoyed special works that promote peace and self-reflection.

We started the morning with a special peace parade to the flag pole, where we sang the “peace song” and recited the peace pledge.

DSC_0114“I pledge allegiance to the earth and to all life that it nourishes, all growing things, all species of animals and all races of people. 
I promise to protect all life on our planet, to live in harmony with nature and to share our resources justly, so that all people can live with dignity in good health and in peace.”
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dsc_0784dsc_0791We discussed ways to practice peace… Continue reading

This is how our toddler community celebrated International Day of Peace on Monday; peaceful yoga and friendship hugs.

Happy International Day of Peace

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“I pledge allegiance to the earth and to all life that it nourishes, all growing things, all species of animals and all races of people. I promise to protect all life on our planet, to live in harmony with nature and to share our resources justly, so that all people can live with dignity in good health and in peace.”
(recited by our friends each morning)

Flash Back Friday: 6 Ways to Promote Peace in the Classroom, Countdown to International Day of Peace

Original post: Sept. 19, 2014
A petting zoo is a great way to teach children how to gently handle and care for small animals.

“…establishing peace is the work of education” – Maria Montessori

It is our responsibility as educators to promote peace within our classrooms. Peace education starts the moment the child walks through your door on the first day of school, and should be presented in almost every work and lesson all throughout the year. Maria Montessori was a large advocate for peace education, and created her philosophy and teaching methods based on this foundational principle.

There are many ways to promote peace in the classroom that aren’t too abstract and simple to teach, especially for our younger 2 – 3 year olds. Although it is important to touch on this subject, peace education does not have to just include the prevention of war. It can start in the classroom, by simple acts of kindness, or care of the environment and others around us. The word “peace” means something different to everyone; there are an endless number of ways a child can bring peace to the community. It is our job as educators to foster a healthy learning environment that displays both peace and harmony.

Here are a few ways that you can help promote peace in your classroom: Continue reading

Parent Resource: Observing Holidays as Cultural Celebrations in the Montessori Environment

“Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.” ~Caroline Kennedy Another great article provided by the North American Montessori Center, discussing the downfall of commercialism’s effect on holidays and … Continue reading

6 Ways to Promote Peace in the Classroom, Countdown to International Day of Peace

“…establishing peace is the work of education” – Maria Montessori

It is our responsibility as educators to promote peace within our classrooms. Peace education starts the moment the child walks through your door on the first day of school, and should be presented in almost every work and lesson all throughout the year. Maria Montessori was a large advocate for peace education, and created her philosophy and teaching methods based on this foundational principle.

There are many ways to promote peace in the classroom that aren’t too abstract and simple to teach, especially for our younger 2 – 3 year olds. Although it is important to touch on this subject, peace education does not have to just include the prevention of war. It can start in the classroom, by simple acts of kindness, or care of the environment and others around us. The word “peace” means something different to everyone; there are an endless number of ways a child can bring peace to the community. It is our job as educators to foster a healthy learning environment that displays both peace and harmony.

Here are a few ways that you can help promote peace in your classroom:

  1. Care of Environment, Self, and Others
    – Children understand the importance of peace by learning to care for their classroom environment, 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.
    I plant flowers to help keep my school beautiful.
  2. “No Bullying” Policy
    – Of course it goes without saying that your school should have a strict no-tolerance policy against bullying. Teach children how to verbally resolve their conflicts, rather than acting on impulse and physically hurting another friend. We use kind words and gestures in the classroom, and never emotionally hurt another friend by calling them names. Verbally redirect children who might need extra help and guidance in this area. Nurture a healthy environment that promotes conflict resolution skills, which in turn help increase the child’s listening, communication, and problem solving skills.
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  3. Care of Animals
    – If your school permits, “classroom pets” are a great way to teach children the proper care of animals. Allow them to be responsible for feeding the animal, provide daily water, and clean the cages, with little help from the adult (but with the proper supervision!). A petting zoo is a great way to introduce different farm animals, and to teach the children how to pet the animals gently, or to respect their space when they do not want to be bothered. Remember, we pet animals with two fingers, gently!
    A petting zoo is a great way to teach children how to gently handle and care for small animals.
  4. Respect for Diversity
    – In our school community, we embrace a mutual respect for diversity, as well as a variety of cultural and international holidays. If we teach this same respect to children when they are young, they will grow to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of all cultures. The photo below is from a display in our Multicultural Winter Program, 2013.
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  5. Yoga
    – 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 those with “extra energy”.
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  6. Peace Pledge
    – Reciting a peace pledge is a good practice that should be done daily in the classroom. We proudly display the World Peace Flag as an important reminder of what our school represents. The children visit the flag daily to recite the peace pledge:
    “I pledge allegiance to the earth and to all life that it nourishes, all growing things, all species of animals and all races of people. I promise to protect all life on our planet, to live in harmony with nature and to share our resources justly, so that all people can live with dignity in good health and in peace.”
    DSC_0114

Education and peace go hand-in-hand; we must educate for peace.

Resources:
Education and Peace: the Montessori Series, Maria Montessori
Peaceful Children, Peaceful World: the Challenge of Maria Montessori, Aline D. Wolf
Peace Education: Third Edition, Ian M. Harris and Mary Lee Morrison
Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures, Jan Reynolds

Websites:
http://www.montessoriservices.com/ideas-insights/cultivating-peace-in-the-classroom
http://www.wincalendar.com/International-Day-Of-Peace (history of International Day of Peace)

Peace Quotes:
“…establishing peace is the work of education” — Maria Montessori
“If we are to create peace in the world, we must begin with the children.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“True peace, on the contrary, suggests the triumph of justice and love among all people” — Maria Montessori
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal” — Martin Luther King, Jr.