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Seedlings: What Does Conflict Resolution Look Like on the Playground?

“True peace...suggests the triumph of justice and love among men;

it reveals the existence of a better world where harmony reigns.”

Maria Montessori

For a young child between 2-3 years sharing will be a skill that is learned with a lot of practice. Grabbing and taking may be the first “go to” for a child that is navigating social challenges in school for the first time.

In the Montessori environment one of the teacher’s goals is to assist the children in expressing their wants and needs. As w[if gte vml 1]><v:shape id="_x0000_s1026" style='position:absolute;margin-left:168pt;margin-top:135pt;width:276pt; height:237.5pt;z-index:251657728;mso-wrap-distance-left:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-top:12pt;mso-wrap-distance-right:12pt; mso-wrap-distance-bottom:12pt;mso-position-horizontal:absolute; mso-position-horizontal-relative:page;mso-position-vertical:absolute; mso-position-vertical-relative:page' coordsize="21600,21600" wrapcoords="-59 0 -59 21532 21600 21532 21600 0 -59 0" strokeweight="1pt"> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:\Users\PINEGC~1\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\clip_image001.jpg" o:title=""></v:imagedata> <w:wrap type="through" anchorx="page" anchory="page"></w:wrap> </v:shape><![endif][if !vml][endif]e observe the children outside in a group we may see children push each other or take toys away from each other. In these moments, we try to help the children begin to build the skills needed for social graces.

A teacher will say,” I cannot let you push your friends.” The teacher will then model how to check on a friend. “I can show you how to fix this.” The teacher will kneel down to the child’s level and ask,”Are you OK?” “Can I do anything to help you feel better?” Holding a child’s hand, the teacher will go to get a tissue for the hurt friend while allowing the friend who was pushing to be part of fixing the problem.

We will often check in with the child who was pushed and give him a chance to practice language. “Would you like to give Johnny a message?” We will provide the phrase, “No thank you.” or “Be gentle with me.”

We do not have the children usually say the words, “I’m sorry” unless a child is familiar with that phrasing. Sometimes a child will say, “I’m sorry” without knowing what it is that they are sorry for. We have found that it is most helpful to define what we want to remember for next time. For example, how to ask for a turn, how to tell a friend you want to play or how to ask a friend to wait for a turn.

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