Keeping the Peace

Practicing peace is a cornerstone of Quaker values.

Peace is achieved in a space were not just body language or our tone of voice is calm, but where a space's layout is conducive to peaceful behavior. A peaceful classroom should be arranged in a way that provides children a safe place to get away from the group for a bit if they need to reflect or have some alone time. Whether it is a spot on the open classroom floor, or in the cozy box with a book, it is incredibly important that children are comfortable where they are learning.

Peace means allowing the children to participate at their own pace. In place of time outs, we should help children to take a breather or have some quiet time if they are upset or unable to follow directions. Giving a child the time to breathe, calm down and reflect at their own pace allows them to regain control and rejoin the group happier and much more willing to participate.

Peace is maintained when children use words to explain their feelings, thoughts and ideas. Allowing children to express themselves is the best way to teach them to be peaceful. For this reason children should not be required to say sorry. This may sound unorthodox, but in order for children to truly feel sorry when they know that they have done something wrong, expecting a forced apology is not always sincere. Allowing children t make peace themselves teaches them to say sorry in a meaningful way.

Peace is taught through example and over time children will seek out and create peaceful experiences on their own. Establishing a strong foundation of peaceful behavior will impact a child's behavior in and outside of the classroom. Understanding how to practice peace, and what that means to each child individually is the first step. Peace for one child can be as simple as a smile, a turn in the swing or a hug from a grownup and responding to these needs will help build a community and a classroom where children and teachers alike will be willing to act more peacefully towards each other.