Your PreK-12 students are the future: and when we consider their creativity, passion for helping each other, and drive to make the world a better place, we’re heading for a bright future, indeed. As educators, you are in the unique position to empower your students to both acquire the skills they need to become leaders and identify their personal strengths that make them such a unique asset to future communities. Part of this practice towards adulthood, citizenship, and leadership should be talking about and practicing peacemaking: showing students what it means to exist peacefully with others and to promote peace through their actions.
Kids for Peace, a nonprofit group based out of California, recognized the importance of familiarizing students with peaceful practices when they founded their organization. Now, having extended to also promote kindness in the classroom through The Great Kindness Challenge, Kids for Peace is constantly partnering with educators to teach K-12 students about peace, empathy, and compassion.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Kids for Peace to discuss one of their programs, The Peace Pledge. You can watch a recording of our full conversation below, or read on for a few highlights around what they taught us about fostering a classroom full of young peacemakers:
Start with Student Voice
The Peace Pledge is a program encourages students to first take a pledge to promote peace in all that they do, then act on that pledge throughout the year. Key to the pledge is the role of student voices, student perspectives, and student passions. The pledge itself was crafted by students, who heavily influenced both the pledge language and the understanding of peace that the program draws upon. For example, Jill McManigal, Co-Founder of Kids for Peace, told us that when crafting the pledge, students were insistent that the earth and the environment be central recipients of peaceful acts. When talking about peace and engaging in peaceful activities in your classroom, be sure to put student voice at the center of each lesson.
Creating a more peaceful world starts with individual acts of kindness. Teaching students to be kind to their peers, and providing them with purposeful, structured, and celebratory opportunities to be kind to one another is at the heart of the Kids for Peace mission, across both programs they offer. The Great Kindness Challenge is an excellent avenue to teach kindness: it’s free, and appropriate for all ages. If you’re considering adopting The Peace Pledge in your school or classroom, take a look at how The Great Kindness Challenge can support your instruction and activities.
4 Reasons to Take The Great Kindness Challenge
Improving School Climate Across the Country; Uniting Children Around the Globe
Involve the Community
Community involvement is crucial to ensuring that students are able to engage in truly meaningful peace-building activities. In the webinar recording below, Kids for Peace leaders run through a plethora of community partnership examples that build off The Peace Pledge, from working with retirement communities and animal shelters to creating relationships between students across the globe. If you adopt The Peace Pledge in your classroom, be sure to get creative with community partnerships that allow your students to make connections with people whose struggles might otherwise be invisible to them, and to provide for opportunities to not only talk about peace or practice kindness amongst peers, but to extend to real-world applications.
Bring it “Full Circle”
During our conversation with Jill and the Kids for Peace team, we frequently explored the idea of bringing your peace and kindness activities “full circle” for students. Jill stresses how important it is that students see the impact of their kind act, even if it materializes a long time after the act was committed, or in a far away place. For example, if you have your students write letters to students in another country, try to connect those students back to yours, perhaps by working with other educators to film their reactions or write letters in return. If your students are working with a community organization to volunteer or donate, organize activities where students can hand those donations over to the people in need, or work directly on a volunteer project to the point where the results of their efforts are clearly visible. For young learners, it’s critical that they can actively witness cause and effect in order to truly understand what it means to be a peace builder.
To watch our full conversation with the Kids for Peace team, check out this recording:
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