“Are we there yet?” “How much longer until we …….?” These questions will sound familiar to anyone who spends time with young children. Hi, I’m Amy, and for 17 of my 24 years as part of the Art of Living Foundation, teaching young children, I have also been a Montessori elementary school teacher.
I lead a class of 1st – 3rd graders in learning reading, math, science and social studies. I also lead them in learning to live in the present moment and develop the basic human values of compassion, friendliness, acceptance of diversity. These principles give children the inner strength that can be used to remain calm in challenging situations.
In our weekly peace circle, the children love to do role play, acting out various scenarios that emerge in their daily lives and practicing how to navigate them with thoughtfulness and love. We read and discuss books that illustrate common problems children face and how to resolve them peacefully. Sometimes we do yoga. It amazes me how naturally children settle into the mindful, calm place inside themselves.
I am guided in my teaching by the important points of the Art of Living programs for both adults and children. These principles include: accepting others for who they are; appreciating diversity; serving others in society – especially those less fortunate than ourselves.
In my classroom, this knowledge helps children with hurt feelings to not be at the mercy of harsh words/feelings of others, but to be ‘button proof” and resilient. When they feel left out of activities by their friends, I suggest they make a new friend. As Winter Holiday approaches we shift the focus away from “What will I get?” to thoughts of “What can I give?” Everyone eagerly throws themselves into our adopt-a-family project.
Not only do the Art of Living principles guide children into being fine human beings and citizens of the world, but they flourish in their academic studies as well. They are able to approach everything from a joy of learning and understanding, the wonder of Nature, and the fulfillment that comes from a challenge undertaken and mastered.
Over the years, the techniques and principles learned from the Art of Living Course have helped me immeasurably in my work as an elementary school teacher – both in that I impart to the children, and in how I, myself, deal with the demands of spending every day in a room full of lively youngsters.
I wish every parent, and every teacher would take this course, learn these principles and apply them to their interactions with children. We could truly raise a new generation of peaceful members of our “One World Family!”