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Teaching Peace

Not Sharing

Close your eyes and imagine this scene:

Jonathan has just taken a work from the shelf. He sits down to begin. Emily comes over and is excited to see Jonathan's work, and she takes an item from the work. She tells him that it's her turn.

Most of us can imagine this situation getting a bit loud and leading to tears. However, in a Montessori classroom the children are provided an effective method for coping with matters that could otherwise leave children crying and reaching that timeless stalemate among each other: "This is not fair!"


The Peace Rose

Jonathan responds to Emily by going to the shelf where the Peace Rose is kept. He returns to Emily and says, "I didn't like it when you took my work from me. I was using it." Jonathan knows to then hand the Peace Rose to Emily.

Accepting the Peace Rose, Emily says, "I'm sorry. What can I do to make you feel better?" She passes the rose back to Jonathan.

"I would like you to say you're sorry," says Jonathan, "and give me back the work." Again the rose passes back to Emily.

"I'm sorry," Emily says. "Here is your work back."

At this point, both the children hold the rose and say together "We declare peace."

Does this sound too good to be true?

The Peace Rose is indeed a successful method taught by the teachers within the Montessori system.

Here is an excerpt from Problem Solving in the Pre-Primary Montessori Classroom & The Peace Rose Method by Maggie Natzel:

The Peace Rose method was specifically developed for the Montessori classroom. This method encourages children to be independent and to attempt to solve problems effectively with little teacher intervention. The Peace Rose uses very simple actions to help young children be independent and successful. The Peace Rose Method gives the children the opportunity to practice problem solving skills in the school environment but under controlled conditions. Because the children are taught that the Rose may not be used in combination with verbal abuse or physical aggression it is an excellent way for them to practice. Although the Peace Rose can be used when needed, it must be used respectfully and with care. There are specific guidelines that the children must follow when using the Peace Rose. This concept runs parallel to that of the Montessori philosophy in that there is freedom within boundaries. The Peace Rose maintains this philosophy which helps validate it with the children. Consistency in the Montessori classroom is imperative to the success of our program.

Of course we always hope that we can get through our days without any incidents between children, but when disputes arise it's always encouraging to see the students use their new "peace keeping" skills. Last week we had two students experience a minor disagreement. Among children something "minor" can become very upsetting. In this case, a third child sensed the need for peace, retrieved the rose, and handed it to the two children facing a dispute, thereby helping them to begin working out their issue appropriately.

Would you like to encourage this in your own home?

Our young children's minds and attitudes are being shaped daily yet remain very impressionable. They will typically welcome the opportunity to have themselves heard properly, and the structure of the Peace Rose Method will urge their communication and coping skills forward. If you try the method in your home, it doesn't require a rose necessarily. Families have used a train, a doll or even a small car - whatever object helps your child or children to attach a pleasant attitude and positive purpose to the method. All of the staff here at the school have seen the Peace Rose work effectively. If you would like more information please feel free to ask your child's teacher or the school administration. Any of us will be happy to offer suggestions and insight into the technique.