Timing is a funny thing.
When I made our Elementary Lesson plans and our Circle Time plans, I considered, but decided against, using The Young Peacemaker. I heard about it a few years ago, purchased it, and used it during Circle Time. We worked through about a third of the 12-lesson book before I ditched it. The concepts taught are excellent, but the stories, examples, and explanations are geared for upper elementary & middle school, and it wasn’t a good fit with our all-under-8 crowd at the time. I then bought the author’s book, Peacemaker, thinking I’d read it and simply integrate his principles into our real daily life fluidly, but I have yet to read it.
Then Brandy recently posted an excellent series called Should I Make My Child Apologize?, and it coincided with my noticing in my own house that my children’s problem-solving and getting-along skills are on the decline and instances of tattling and hitting on the increase.
So, I revisited The Young Peacemaker teacher manual and decided that this was the year to include it after all. I also picked up and read Ken Sande’s Peacemaking for Families, where he has this to say about making children apologize:
As soon as our children could speak, we required them to make a confession whenever they did something wrong. […] Even though they were obviously not sincere some of the time, we believed that it would be good for them to develop the habit of at least saying the right words. Many adults do not have the foggiest idea how to make a good confession; at least our children would not be able to plead ignorance!
Once we concluded they were mature enough to understand and take responsibility for their actions, we did all we could to encourage them to make sincere confessions, even if it meant long talks and prayer together, or having them sit alone to think about their actions.
The Young Peacemaker has 12 lessons that include a memory verse, a story, a lesson, role-play application suggestions, and references to other Bible stories and passages that would be applicable. Lessons include explanations of where conflict comes from (selfish desires in our hearts), what a biblical apology includes, what biblical forgiveness means, how to avoid bad responses to conflict (peace-breaking and peace-faking), the need to own responsibility for one’s choices, and a very good lesson on how conflict – handled well – brings glory to God. The perspective it gives is that conflict is inevitable, but it’s an opportunity to glorify God through obedience, not a sign that you’ve failed automatically. Every single lesson is rich with biblically sound teaching and is deep for children’s material.
Unfortunately, the artwork is tacky and ugly, but since I’m only using the teacher’s manual and not any of the student materials, my own eyes are the only ones that need be offended by the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool-and-relevant cartoons.
In preparation for using The Young Peacemaker in our Elementary Lessons, I’ve created a lesson plan to break each of the 12 lessons into 4 days of 10 minute sessions. We’ll be doing 2 a week for 24 weeks, but you could also do them 4 days a week for 12 weeks. I do recommend this for children ages 8 and up; for younger children, Doorpost’s Brother Offended chart is simpler and more applicable. The examples and stories simply won’t resonate with younger children, and the explanations are too in-depth for the little ones. The primary target age would be around 10-12, I’d say.