Community Service Learning in the Primary Division focuses on a very important element of Montessori education – the concept of peace. During each year of development within the Primary Division, our youngest students work towards gaining a deeper understanding of the essential question, “What is Peace?”
This year our discovery of peace began as a division when students participated in the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2017. In preparation for this day, students learned the song “Light a Candle for Peace,” which they then all sang together by joining hands with one another on our large playground.
This fun activity not only allowed our students to feel more connected to one another as a division, but also provided a great jumping off point for each of the classes in primary to begin their own discovery of what peace means to them.
In 3-Day the concept of peace is rooted in the discovery and development of self-discipline. To encourage this learning, each day begins with teachers working to create a prepared environment that allows our 3-Day students the opportunity to have meaningful interactions that reinforce principles of grace, courtesy and sharing.
Through these types of “planned” interactions children wait in lines, take turns during games, and give and receive appropriate messages from one another and their teachers. For example, when a child is waiting on cereal work, he or she can remind their classmate to return the tray to the cereal table if they see that their classmate has forgotten.
These types of learning interactions provide opportunities for children to experience and understand that their behaviors have an effect on those around them, and that by controlling or self-regulating their responses they have the power to cultivate peace for themselves. Young children can find the abstract concept of peace hard to understand, so in 5-Day students work to define what peace means to them.
Through circle-time readings and discussions, students are introduced to various ideas about peace such as being generous to others and developing an appreciation of nature and the environment.
With those concepts in mind, our children began to think and synthesize their concepts of peace that they then used to create and illustrate their own Peace Books that they shared with friends and other primary students.
Their Peace Books are important, because by allowing students to create tangible expressions of what peace means to them, they are able to move the notion of peace from an abstract idea to something more real and relatable. “I learned peace is helping a friend up and seeing if they are okay.” 5-Day students Byers Ward, Mack Thompson and Dannyn Stolbach created peace flags to fly over the Primary Garden.
Ben Cowley and Quinn Wetwiska demonstrated how taking turns is important to maintaining peaceful relationships with others in 3-Day. Primary students gathered on the playground and sang “Light a Candle for Peace” in celebration of International Peace Day. In Kindergarten the concept of peace is further woven into the classroom experience, as we focus on sharing peace with others.
This year our Kindergarteners worked to create gifts for others; they baked cookies and gingerbread as ways to say thank you to teachers and staff at the school and created bookmarks for other students to encourage reading. Through their efforts, our Kindergarteners experienced that the practice of showing kindness to others is an important step in building peace within your community.
Additionally, the Peace Table was introduced to Kindergartners. The Peace Table is defined space within our classroom that allows students the opportunity to work out personal conflicts. Sometimes the Peace Table is used to allow a student to have personal time for quiet reflection; yet in other instances, the table can be used as a safe space that encourages conflict resolution between students through a defined and peaceful communication strategy.
Through these types of activities and interactions, Kindergarteners understand that peace also requires you to have an awareness of the needs of others.