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Hello everyone!
I hope that you and your family are safe right now. It’s not easy out there. We are witnessing so much violence, without a seeming end in sight. How do we raise our children in such a world? It’s hard not to lose hope.
I received this message the other day and thought it might be helpful to address in this month’s newsletter.
“I think what would be really helpful is to have a chat about education for peace and how does it look in the different planes. … It is hard to see how to educate for peace while also educating kids about history and conflict - would love to hear your insight 🌺”
Honestly, the best answer to this question is to listen to this webinar held by Lead Montessori on 6 March 2022. War had broken out 2 weeks earlier between Russia and Ukraine. In the webinar, 3 AMI Montessori trainers (Carla Foster, Tina Suominen, and Madlena Ulrich) and Dini Rebild (who has an enormous amount of experience working with child refugees) were invited to share how to talk to children about what is happening at the 0-3, 3-6 and 6-12 age groups.
In this newsletter, I’ll summarise what I took away from this webinar and the principles we can apply with our children in talking with them about what is happening in Israel and Gaza right now. I hope it’s helpful.


A couple of things to check out…
  • Our publisher Workman currently has a holiday discount on our books if you purchase from their website. Until 31 December, you get 20% off + free shipping over $40 using the code HOLIDAY23 (sorry - US only!). To purchase, go to
  • Watch the replay of The Montessori Show - Jeanne-Marie and I had a fun show all about “Why independence is not a dirty word.” You can now watch the recording on YouTube here

Talking to our children about war
0 - 3 years old
  • with our youngest children with their unconscious absorbent minds, we do not want them exposed to or to absorb any of the violence that we hear on the radio, television, our phones, or social media that will harm them or their minds
  • we need to find safe places where we can process our sadness, anger, rage, disappointment, fear etc out of earshot of our children - this could be in our community, a psychologist, friends or family. This does not need to be shared with our youngest children.
  • look to maintain as many routines, rhythms and rituals as possible. Establish points of reference to make the children feel safe such as ensuring consistent sleep times, involving them in practical life activities, if they have a security item etc
  • practice self-care and find ways to process our emotions in healthy ways - walk in the forest, turn off our phones, light candles, put on soothing music, cry, run, clean the house, sing, chant, find a community to discuss with etc
  • it is our role to give psychological safety to these children, to not lose hope, so they trust us. Observe for signs the child has been affected and/or if the child needs extra hugs, a feeling of safety from us
3 - 6 years old
  • the 3-6 child has a conscious absorbent mind - they will be more aware of what is going on around them. Again we want to limit them receiving any information which will be absorbed. However, they may hear or see things at preschool/school or on a television screen around them or see us upset.
  • give the child time/opportunity to ask questions and talk about any concerns they have (this may be more for a 5/6 year old)
  • we can tell them we are sad/worried and share our feelings, but it’s not the child’s burden to carry - we can show that it’s ok to be afraid and sad but that we are taking care of ourselves and, as the adult, we will take of ourselves and them
  • it’s important to note that they may see the images being played again and again on news channels etc. It can look like the same tragedy is happening again and again. It is also difficult for them to determine where in the world it is happening and they may believe it is happening right outside the home.
  • use language they will understand to explain simply how it affects people and how we can help people
  • let children know about everything that is being done to find solutions and restore peace, eg, with older 5/6 year olds we can talk about the international organisations like the United Nations working on this
  • they can be involved in helping us to provide support to others, eg, baking cakes to raise money at school, offering a neighbour support
  • observe them to see if their behaviour has changed (eg, sleeping, eating, aggression) - this will give us an indication that they may have seen or heard something and will need our support to process what they have heard.
  • practical life activities can be very helpful with children who have suffered trauma, as well as a lot of love and a lot of comfort
6 - 12 years old
  • Dr Montessori asked us to work with elementary children towards building not the different nations of the world but the united nations of humanity
  • these children are beginning to understand the story of being human - we have minds, hearts and hands and, as humans, we are a species that have solved problems in the past
  • we can talk to our children about how we deal with threat - by defence and aggression or, preferably, by finding our community and building strength within our community
  • we can highlight to our children that pride in our culture is not the same as nationalism or that we are better than others - it is not us against them as cultures
  • these children have the ability to be compassionate and help alleviate the suffering of others - especially older 9-12 year olds will often need to do something (eg, raise money, support international organisations etc)
  • focus on what is being done by people who want peace and what our community does to build peace in our community. We can talk to them about how we deal with conflict at home/at school - strategies to deal with conflict, how to think about conflict (is it about things?/territory?/status?/who decides?)
  • we can help correct any misunderstandings our children may have about the situation
  • these children are trying to understand the human dilemma - how do we navigate the dilemmas humans come into and come up with better solutions
  • what does history teach us about ourselves and our species? History teaches as we are not finished; we have created great inventions and do have the capacity to change; hopefully we can also rewire our brains for peace
  • we need to balance them knowing what’s going on in the world vs anxiety that is caused by knowing
  • we can guide them how to handle fear (also for things like climate change); what holds a community together; what keeps a community compassionate about other communities; to handle anxiety by doing things together like cooking with them, walking in nature
  • some older children (say 12 year olds) may want to follow where the troops are, what is happening
To add to what was shared in the webinar, I like these questions for older children asked by Liz Sohyeon Kleinrock on Instagram:
  • What do you think you know about Israel and Palestine?
  • What do you think you know about Gaza?
  • What does it mean for a community to be indigenous?
  • What indigenous groups have connection to the land we call Israel/Palestine?
  • What is colonization? How has colonization (both Arab and European) affected the region?
  • What is your knowledge of the region prior to 1948?
  • What countries neighbor Israel and Gaza? What role have those countries historically played? What role do they play now?
  • What do you know about the media sources you read and watch?
  • How does your socially constructed racial and political lens shape how you view the conflict? Where might you need to expand your lens?
  • What do you notice about how people communicate about the conflict? What barriers do you observe that prevent people from communicating effectively?
  • What questions do you still have that are still unanswered?
If you are in danger right now / have to move out of your home / have lost friends and family, our hearts go out to you. As much as possible, explain to your children that it’s not safe here. That you are doing your best to keep them safe. That there are also a lot of members of the community doing work to keep you and your family safe. We can explain it as objectively and honestly as possible, in an age-appropriate way. 
The healing process that follows this situation will take a long time with a multilayered approach - with the child, the family, the school, and the wider community.
Book mentioned in the webinar: From the Top of the Trees book by Kao Kalia Yang - a children’s book written by a father in a refugee camp

Looks what's coming soon!
To end this newsletter on a slightly more uplifting note, in case you missed it, The Montessori Child book is coming soon to bookstores near you.
You have all been asking, what comes next? How can I support my child after the baby and toddler years? Particularly in an uncertain world and a world full of hardship and suffering right now. So Junnifa Uzodike and I have put together a comprehensive guidebook for 3 to 12 year olds (including a big chapter on the teen years too). It is the book I wish had existed as I was raising my own children. 
The book is now at the printers and will come out March 5th 2024. Preorders are now open at all (online) bookstores and retailers. Thank you so much to all of you for your support in making this happen! 
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Classes will be running until 22 December here in Amsterdam so see some of you in class soon!
For everyone else, that's all for this year. Thank you for being here as part of this beautiful Montessori community. Thank you for having a curious mind to raise children who want to be stewards of peace and this planet. 
I hope you have a restful holiday season. Hug your loved ones just a little bit closer. And I'll be back in the new year with lots more Montessori inspiration. Til then…
Much love,
Simone x
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 THE MONTESSORI CHILD (due out in March 2024)