The Peace Table is a concept from Montessori classrooms and serves as a place for disagreement between students. Student disagreements can be anywhere from a small annoyance to a big deal. Sometimes a student just needs a minute. Having a designated space in your classroom for this sort of stuff is not only a great idea, but one that will help with self-regulation, conflict resolution and other issues. Instead of Instead of escalating, a student gets time to self-manage at the peace table. Instead of an argument, students talk through their problem.
My own schooling started in a Montessori classroom and I can still remember the little table with the UN flag in the corner of the room and being mad at friends at the table. This is definitely an adaptation on that as I am not a Montessori teacher (although I’ve taught in three Montessori schools).
Because we are a music classroom, having a small kids table with two chairs may be difficult depending on the set up of your room. Other options are having two sit spots at a small stool-like table, having just a small plant stand, or one of those ceramic garden stools. Whatever options you chose, it should be a calm space without extra stuff or lots of decor, and a small piece of peace in your room. (Pun totally intended. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
On the Table
A little 3 minute timer is a great idea if a student needs a break, but if you are concerned with kids taking turns to talk, I recommend a little cube timer. (Full disclosure: affiliate link, no pressure!) I’ve mentioned them before, but I really get a lot of use out of them. I use them for myself, but the little blue one is perfect for a peace table. Add an instruction for the 1 minute side for student conflict resolution and 3 minutes for alone peace time.
With students, especially younger ones, having an object to hold that signifies who is talking is a good idea. Not only does it help the person feel in control, but also helps remind the other student it is not their turn. When tempers flair this can help them navigate conflict resolution without yelling, interrupting, etc. Some great ideas for this can be a smooth rock, a plastic flower, or a pretty marble.
Other Calming Objects
- Something peaceful or pretty such as lava lamp, a glitter bottle, flowers, or something pretty to look at and help evoke a peaceful feeling.
- Some sort of soothing objects such as a fidget object or other soothing things that may be used by students who are there for a moment away.
A Few Rules
- Students can be instructed to go to the table, or self select for time. The time should not be extended for time out/rest time unless approved by the teacher.
- Students should keep a hand on the table as a sign of listening when they are there with another student.
- Hurtful words are not allowed at the Peace Table. It may be necessary to have a third party (aka you).
- Teach students to use “I feel/think” statements when at the peace table.
- This table should not be used as punishment. It is for conflict resolution, student self-selected rest time, or if you see a student that is escalating that needs time to refocus.
For Individual Use
- One student at a time.
- Student should sit silently.
- They may use the fidget or calming object at the table or look at the calming elements.
- A three minute timer is what should be set. They should not reset the timer unless given permission. (This may be different if you have a student that has an IEP or behavioral plan. Work with classroom teachers to establish these time limits. Remember you know your students best!)
- Student should come back to the class when the timer rings.
- Students learn conflict resolution skills.
- Students learn to self-assess their feelings.
- Students learn to reflect on their words and behavior when it hurts others.
- Students can attempt to resolve issues without teacher involvement.
- Teacher allows for students to have some autonomy in their interactions with other students.
In the time of COVID, some of the things that would work normally at a peace table such as a speaking object may not work such as the speaking object. Something that may work as an adaptation right now are having two of the speaking object. Students may only pick up theirs when it is their time to speak. This eliminates sharing objects between students.
I’ve made some lovely, calming signs for you to include in your Peace Table set up (including some ink friendly ones!). Snag them for FREE in my TpT store.
I hope that this is helpful and helps you set up a Peace Table in your own classroom.