Christ. Children. Constructivism.

Our Christian Montessori conversation could start here. Grab a cup of coffee or chai tea and settle in for a connection about things that matter most. Here is where you will be comforted that you are not alone.

Not Yet Peaceful

2016 seems to be the most hectic year ever.  Imagine being a young person, under 18 years old.  Gone are the days when you could play outside in your neighborhood, riding bikes around and coming home by dinner time.  Gone are your many “focal point” activities of knitting, sewing, scrapbooking (with actual scissors), washing dishes by hand or hanging clothes on a clothes-line.  Free play is lost. Now you have play dates.  No more vacant lots for kick-the-can and pick-up-baseball. Now we have organized sport teams. No more crawling around the station wagon while in motion.  Now you are strapped into a car seat until you are eight and a seatbelt until you are eighty.  It is a good thing – because you live in the car now. You don’t get up and change the dial on your larger-than-life TV instead everyone in the family has their own device.  No more waiting patiently until Thursday night when “The Walton Family” aired at 7:00 pm and everyone gathered around – now you can binge-watch whatever show you have the hankering for at any moment.  It is more than “good night John Boy” it is really good-bye.  And people are even confused about what bathroom to use…yep, it’s pretty hectic.  
It is our job, one of our most important jobs, as educators and parents to keep the wildly spinning world very, very quiet and still for our developing children.  They actually crave peace but cannot find it without our help.  We must create patterns and processes of life that help children become peaceful.  So I ask…
I s   y o u r   h o m e   p e a c e f u l ?     I s   y o u r   c h i l d   p e a c e f u l ?
If you are looking for ways to reclaim peace for your children and restore peace in your home, here’s a list that I have adapted from Donna Bryant Goertz’s book Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful – pages 122 & 123.
1. “Establish a slow-placed lifestyle” with attention to the “five fuel sources”: sleep, water, food, movement, and love.  These five things nourish the limbic part of the brain that controls emotion.  When our base needs are satisfied, we are rational.
2. “Behold the child” – fully engaged eye contact, holding, hugging, treasuring the time spent one-on-one. Seriously, give your child your full attention.  Put down the phone. 
3.  “Read to the child, aloud,” chapter books that are several years beyond the child’s reading level, for at least 20-30 minutes. Reading paints pictures in the mind and allows character development to transpire by the images invoked.
4.  “Recite poetry every day, a new poem every week.” Repetition brings harmony (it is a design principle). 
5. “Sing every day, a new song every week.” Music is healing to the soul.  It is by nature, music is worshipful and we humans need it. We were created for worship.
6. “Tell delightful stories of the child’s own life”.  Share stories of your own history and the child’s heritage. Stories are the threads that keep us from unraveling.  It reminds us of our past and gives us a hope for the future.
7. “Foster an atmosphere of open curiosity and inquiry” which treasures learning and interest. Truly rediscover your child’s innate passions – and then feed the passion.  If this passion includes anything virtual, redirect it towards reality.
8. “Let the child have responsibility in the home” in meal preparation, caring for animals, tending to gardens and plants and taking care of his/her own things. It may take longer and make a bigger mess but it helps children develop ownership.  
9. “Impose a two-hour weekly limit to all forms of screen time.” Screen time reconfigures the brain.  This is imperative for a peaceful child to have limits on virtual activities.
10.  “Give freedom to the child from being dragged around on errands”. Take them home instead.  Down time is very, very important. Time to tinker. Time to do nothing.
11.  “Give freedom to the child from cynicism and sarcasm.” Sarcasm means “to cut with a knife”.  Choose your words carefully.
12.  “Say “no” cheerfully and mean it”.  Do not allow there to be “yellow zones” – only red and green.  Set boundaries and offer freedom within the boundaries. Neuro-science confirms that young minds need this.
13. “Wait until children are in bed for adult news, movies, music and social media”. Protect your children from the information overload and over-exposure to mature content and violence.
14. “Establish a child-rearing culture that supports age-appropriate independent thought and decision-making” in as many areas as possible and as often as possible. Constructivism is the wonderful place to start practicing these principles.
The Holy Scripture says “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Peace is more than just an unobtainable ideal.  Peace is a person – Jesus.  We can actually invite Him into our hearts and homes and ask Him to help us.  In a fallen world with so much brokenness, we need the Prince of Peace.  He offers peace that surpasses all understanding. May we all take one step away from the hectic today into a more peaceful tomorrow. For the sake of our children.
Enjoy listening to this peaceful and beautiful Scripture Lullaby.

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