Teaching children conflict resolution techniques needs to start at a young age. Even preschoolers are able to utilize the peace table and flower to communicate with each other when conflict arises. The benefits of teaching peace education will continue long after they leave your preschool classroom.
Setting up the Peace Table
To set up the Peace Table in your classroom, find a location that is easily monitored by adults, yet away from the hubbub of busy working areas.
Use a child-sized table and two chairs that are strictly designated only for use as the Peace Table. Alternately, two large, comfortable cushions and a floor table can also be used.
Add a Peace Flower or a Talking Stick to be used for taking turns while talking. Place relaxing photographs and symbols of peace nearby. The area should be deisigned to help young children to sit calmly.
Demonstration of Procedure
For the children to understand the purpose of the Peace Table, the teacher must demonstrate its proper use as a part of their peace education. You can do this by role-playing a situation familiar to the children, using an assistant teacher or other adult. For example, the teacher can pretend to be working on a puzzle or building blocks, when the other teacher comes over to interrupt, perhaps taking a piece out of her hands. The teachers can do a mock argument. Then one needs to invite the other to the Peace Table to discuss the situation: "I invite you to the Peace Table!"
A demonstration of the proper procedure follows. The one who does the inviting gets to hold the Peace Flower first. "You hurt my feelings when you...[mention the offending behavior here]." The Peace Flower is then passed to the other person, who is given a chance to respond. As each person takes a turn in the conversation, she must be holding the peace flower. Only the person holding the peace flower is permitted to speak. It must be passed gently back and forth throughout the conversation. When the conflict is resolved, both parties hold the peace flower at the same time and say, "We declare peace."
The teachers will demonstrate this procedure while simultaneously modeling appropriate language to use during conflict resolution. A follow-up discussion on procedure can occur after the demonstration, and should be reinforced periodically.
Reading books on conflict resolution techniques, manners, and peace education can also reinforce appropriate language to use.
When the children are first practicing using the Peace Table, they may require some adult mediation to get started. As they master its use, proficient children can assist others.
Alternatives for Use
The Peace Table can also be a place for a child to sit and regain control of himself during work time or circle time. Activities such as a Zen garden can be available for him to use as a calming mechanism. A fish tank or mini waterfall could be placed within view.
Some tweaking of the procedure may need to be made, as each teacher has her own style of classroom management and incorporating peace education into behavior management in preschool. She can then demonstrate it on Parent Night as an inspiration to parents to set up their own Peace Table at home.