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Lower School Peer Mediation Program

  • Lower School

The new Peer Mediation Program in the Lower School strives to give children the tools for greater self-advocacy, self-agency and self-regulation. The students are now using it to resolve everyday peer conflicts. Lower School faculty and staff members watched the French documentary “Une Idée Folle” (A Crazy Idea) during a faculty retreat day, which asks the question “What challenges will students face as future citizens and how can we best prepare them for that?” The answer, in large part, is helping children develop skills such as empathy, self-confidence and cooperation—skills which would help create responsible citizens who will have a positive impact on the world.

The idea of a Peer Mediation program at Key brought teachers together to devise a way of empowering students to talk through and mediate issues and conflicts themselves. The program was introduced to students during Life Skills and was taught in three lessons: gaining empathy, how to achieve fair outcomes when there is conflict, and the Peace Path. The Peace Path is a road map for students to use in resolving problems which involves telling each other their version of what happened, actively listening, and leaving in peace with a handshake. Teachers have seen children using the Peace Plan during recess to resolve disagreements with a great deal of success. Fourth grade teacher Peter Branscombe says, “I’ve seen students use this strategy to take ownership of solving conflicts. They actually enjoy being the ones responsible for solving the problem rather than relying on the teacher. In most cases, they solve the problem more quickly on their own.”