When we put our values and principles into action, they become embedded in our day-to-day lives. In this spirit, I have developed exercises called “Oneness-Family Practices” to offer you the opportunity to incorporate into your family routines and traditions some of the key philosophical approaches that are at the heart of our curriculum and school community.
Many of these practices are drawn directly from lessons we teach, so they will also provide fertile ground for conversation between you and your child. My hope is that by connecting the classroom and the home with these practices, we will grow together as a community and create greater harmony and balance while strengthening your child’s educational experience. These practices will be posted on Facebook and in Oneness Weekly.
Oneness-Family Practice #1 – Acknowledgements
One of the most noteworthy and fruitful practices at the Oneness-Family School is what we call acknowledgements. We take time on a regular basis, especially at circle time, to give students a chance to show appreciation for each other. They are encouraged to formally recognize something special that someone has done or a quality, talent, or skill that they have. Maria Montessori herself spoke about helping the child realize his or her hidden potential. In this vein, I have always felt that empowering the child to bring his or her special gifts into the world is education in its highest form. The practice of acknowledging one another can help, in very tangible ways, to realize this ultimate goal.
For example, when I recently spent time in the Peace Arbor class with the 6- to 9-year olds, I heard a student acknowledge a classmate for cheering her up when she was feeling sad. An extension of this practice is echoed in the way birthdays are celebrated in the Arbor; all students in the class are invited to share a specific quality that they appreciate about the birthday girl or boy. The classmates’ birthday acknowledgements are written down on a special paper for the student to keep and bring home. Some of the birthday acknowledgements I’ve heard include, “good at math,” fast runner, “very artistic,” “helps me do hard things…” It is something every student looks forward to!
Over the years, we have found that this practice builds a spirit of unity and collaboration and greatly reduces competition in the classroom. It helps the students see the positive qualities in each other and to realize that all of us have gifts. In some classes, the process is made more tangible by collecting tokens (“rainbow heart jewels” in the Peace Arbor) in a common bank to symbolize everyone’s efforts toward the collective good.
The practice of setting aside time for acknowledgements is something we warmly encourage you to try. Of course, mom and dad are also welcome to acknowledge each other! If the word “acknowledgement” is too big for some students, then of course you can instead say, “I want to thank ________ for _____________.
Please share with us your anecdotes about your practice of acknowledgements at home; we’d love to hear them! If you’d like further information about practicing acknowledgements and the importance of gratitude, please see the links below:
Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier