As I get ready to graduate from high school this spring, I find myself reflecting on memories and moments from my childhood. I remember being in Peace Class with Ms. Ryden back when I was a student at Lafayette Elementary School. At the time, school sometimes felt too loud and busy, and some days I found myself in need of a break from all the commotion.
Luckily, I was able to go to Peace Class, which offered me a welcome reprieve from the otherwise noisy school day. Not only did the class provide a calmer atmosphere, it also offered a lot of valuable conflict resolution skills. In particular, I remember learning about “green poison darts,” a metaphor meant to illustrate how hurtful words can be (insulting someone is like throwing a poison dart at them).
Although I never got in any particularly intense spats when I was younger, I did use the concepts I was taught. During disagreements with my brother, I would think back to the tools I’d learned in class in order to keep our arguments from escalating. I think it’s a testament to how useful the class was that I actually went home and practiced these skills in real-world situations, and since leaving elementary school, I’ve kept what I’ve learned about conflict resolutions in a mental toolbox.
Another important part of my toolbox is the way I practice mindfulness. Grounding myself with breathing exercises and calming thoughts helps me when things become stressful. Every day, I sit with my cat, Socks, either in my lap or perched on my shoulder, and I notice how my breathing and her purring seem in sync. I use this as a way of reminding myself to pause and relax, whether it’s been a calm day or a busy one.
I am so happy to know that mindfulness is such an important part of the Peace of Mind curriculum. As a seventeen-year old, I can say with absolute certainty that it is incredibly valuable for young kids to have access to these skills to help them process their feelings. I hope that someday a class like the one at Lafayette’s will be taught across the world.
-by Eli Blackwell