Posted on May 4, 2017
I was inside the CE House the other day, and the preschoolers were playing outside. I overheard them through the window negotiate what they wanted with what their friends wanted. Isn't that the human experience, no matter what age we are? We have to reconcile our wants with the wants of those around us.
We are going through Peer Mediation training with the third and fourth graders right now. This is a national Peer Mediation program that Shirley Rivera brought to Epiphany School over twenty years ago. One activity is role playing (1) denial ("No, nothing's wrong") vs. (2) aggressive confrontation (verbal or physical) vs. (3) problem solving. I held up the three scripts: problem solving was by far the longest. Problem solving takes time. However, if people use denial or aggressive confrontation, they will likely not remain friends.
Once two girls shared with me that they had a big problem. I listened (a very important skill we practice in Mediation training) to each of them talk at length about what had happened and how they were feeling about it (another Mediation principle - disputants talk about their feelings as well as what happened). Each shares enough to get it all out, which helps them come to a place where they aren't as hurt or angry in order to be ready to solve problems.
I reflected their feelings: "It sounds like you have felt hurt, jealous, angry, and frustrated." (Mediators reflect the disputants' feelings with compassion. In the photo above, the students are taking turns reading aloud scenarios and reflecting each other's feelings.) Both girls nodded their heads vigorously.
I then asked, "What ideas do you have to solve this?" (Disputants come up with their own solutions.) Because this problem had gone on since the beginning of the year and many incidents had happened between them, I asked the girls, "What do you think the root of the problem is?"
And I wanted to share this with you (with their permission) because I was astounded at what solutions they came up with themselves:
Our annual Book Swap starts next week Monday, May 15, through the end of school. Students will have an opportunity to swap their gently-used books during their Character Education class.
If students bring a book, they can swap it and take home a "new" book! They can bring in just one book or as many books as they wish. At first, children who bring more than five books will be able to take home only five books, but if they wish to return towards the end of the book swap, they can take home as many as they brought in.
Or if your child loves all his books at home and can't find one he wants to swap, it's perfectly fine not to participate.
Any books preschool level through 5th grade would be appropriate.
Last year the children loved browsing through all the books and being able to choose their very own book to take home. This Book Swap idea first came up as an Earth Day activity. Let's put Reduce-Reuse-Recycle into action!