Friday, February 1, 2013

The Gan is a space where children can blossom and make the world around them a better place.
The children at The Gan are skilled at using their words to solve conflicts.
They express themselves firmly, with kind words.
This is half of conflict resolution.
In addition to the detailing of the problem, there needs to be listening.
I have seen children be quite eloquent only to have their self control and expressive words be wasted on ears that were not listening.
I can't blame the child for feeling more angry and upset after not being listened to, on top of the original problem.

For successful peaceful resolution, there needs to be communication.
If we are lucky, children will see and read body language and  facial expressions, and make the changes to solve problems.
However, this is a  pre-school setting.
This is a time when each child is developmentally and appropriately self centered.
Each child has the  innate purpose to observe, test and successfully begin mastering the rules of life.
Subtle, non-verbal forms of communication can go unseen (unless your friend is stomping their feet....).
A child may be so determined in creating his structure he may not see that when he grabbed the block from his friend, his friend frowned and crossed his arms.  It is not a malicious oversight, yet it still caused a friend to be hurt.

The Peace Rose is a tool which facilitates the communication process.
It is very formulaic, providing clear expectations each child is aware of, and can depend on.

When a conflict occurs, a child can get the Peace Rose and begin the conflict resolution process.
The child tells her friend: I have the Peace Rose, please speak with me.
If the rose is brought to you, you need to participate.
The friends walk away from the location where the incident occurred (stepping away from the location of the high emotion).
The friends sit across from each other (facial expressions contribute to the communication given and received).
The child with the rose speaks first:
When ___________ happened I felt___________. I would like ______. 
The rose is then given to the friend, who has the opportunity to make a similar statement, or explain why the action was done, or the words were said.
The passing of the rose is continued until all feelings have been expressed. 
Together the children need to think of solutions which will allow BOTH children to return the rose feeling better.
Generally this takes a few minutes. The mood begins to change as soon as the children say how they are feeling and realize they are being heard.
Tori: Dena I was making a picture. When you touched my stuff I felt mad about it. I don't want you to touch my stuff.
Dena: I thought we were playing together.
Tori: I want to make it by myself.
Dena: Ok. I am going to go doing something else then, if you want you can come play with me.
Tori: Maybe when I'm done.
Each girl expressed their feelings and points of view; each listened as the other spoke.  Both walked away with the conflict solved and feeling better.
The children have used the Peace Rose since its introduction to the classroom earlier this week.
On Monday, it was offered as a way to help solve problems, by Tuesday they were using on their own.
Sometimes one child will see  a conflict and suggest the Peace Rose be used.
All the children are seeing the value of communication as a way to successfully solve their problems.

The Gan's mission- to create a place where children flourish and grow to make the world around them a beautiful, peaceful place- is sustained and supported with use of the Peace Rose.
With enough guidance and practice, the literal tool will not be needed.
The children will become practiced at the art of listening with open ears, and speaking with firm gentle words.
This is a skill they will take with them when they leave our small community.
These young peacemakers will use it to stand up for themselves, and while doing so make others feel listened to, respected and loved.    

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