I have just finished reading the best material I have seen on teaching children how to respond to conflict.
The Young Peace Maker – Teaching Students to Respond to Conflict God’s Way by Corlette Sande was published in 1997. It and the accompanying student activity books are well-written, biblical, and age-appropriate.
This material includes 12 lessons for kids in grades 3-6 on responding to conflict God’s way. Kids deal with conflict every day – at home, at school, at play. It is vital that they learn how to handle conflict. Knowing how to handle conflict the right way brings glory to God and ensures healthy relationships.
This material helps kids to understand why we have conflict with each other, how to prevent it, how to deal with it when it happens, how to accept responsibility for our role in conflict, and how to give and receive forgiveness.
The following 12 key principles are expanded upon:
- Conflict is a slippery slope.
- Conflict starts in the heart.
- Choices have consequences.
- Wise-way choices are better than my-way choices.
- The blame game makes conflict worse.
- Conflict is an opportunity.
- The 5A’s can resolve conflict.
- Forgiveness is a choice.
- It’s never too late to start doing what’s right.
- Think before you speak.
- Respectful communication is more likely to be heard.
- A respectful appeal can prevent conflict.
I particularly like the way lessons are laid out in this material. The author begins each lesson clearly stating the key verse, lesson goal, lesson objectives, key principle, and lesson needs. The lesson is then presented in a logical, easy-to-follow manner. And then the author includes a lesson summary that briefly describes the main points of the lesson.
These lessons can be daunting – they are long and there is a lot of material to cover. However, the author has laid out the lesson very well; especially the lesson outline and the lesson summary. I would suggest using the lesson summary as a way of customizing the lesson. Write out the main points as outlined in the lesson summary and write the key principle at the top of the page. Now fill in each section with the lesson material. You can customize the lesson further by using examples that your students are familiar with or situations that have occurred in your classroom.
Some of the lessons are quite long (especially if you are using this material for Sunday School.) You may want to separate a lesson into 2 lessons if there is a lot of material to cover and you don’t want to rush it. For example lesson 8 “The Freedom of Forgiveness” is a very long lesson but it is full of excellent material. It can easily be separated into 2 lessons. There are 6 objectives for this lesson. One lesson could cover objectives 1-3 and a second lesson could cover objectives 4-6.
This material is not expensive and therefore a good option for church’s with a limited budget. The teacher manual costs $19.95 (US.) A set of student activity books is $14.95. There is also a 4 poster set available for $5.95. The student activity books are the most expensive part of this material. One option would be to purchase one set for the class rather than a set for each child (that could get very expensive!) There is good stuff in there for you to use. The cartoon version of the story gives the kids something to follow along with as you tell the story. There are activity ideas as well that are not in the teacher manual.
Resources are not included with this material, but it is easy and inexpensive to create visuals and memory aids of your own. An important teaching tool used to explain our reactions to conflict is called “The Slippery Slope.” A copy of this is available in the teacher’s manual and the student manual. You could enlarge this poster and maybe have your class color it and attach it to a larger colorful piece of poster board. This can be put up in your classroom area for the entire series as a great reminder of how we react to conflict.
Another idea is to make posters of the key principles from each lesson and put them up in your classroom to help the kids remember what they are learning. Here is an example of a poster I made for lesson 1 – Conflict is a slippery slope.This is a poster idea for lesson 2 – Conflict starts in the heart. They are not high tech or complicated, but they are effective in reminding kids of the important things you want them to know.
Also consider making posters of each key verse and hang those in your class.
This material can be used for Sunday School, summer programming, mid-week club material, small group material, or even mentoring material.
I really liked this idea given in the teacher’s manual:
- Set up a Peace Table or Problem Solving Corner where students can go to resolve their conflicts after they have learned how to do so. When they come to tattle on each other, simply send them to the peace table to work out the problem. Then have them report back to you as to how they resolved the conflict. (page 15)
This material is available from www.peacemaker.net. You can also find it on www.amazon.ca and www.christianbook.com.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9