“I was eager to learn of a potential method for handling disagreements and confrontation.” — Heather Jones, mother of three
For this month, TDmonthly Magazine's Preschool Roundtable parents expressed interest in learning ways for children to resolve conflicts, but The Peace Rug and corresponding book and handbook they reviewed drew diverse reactions from moms and their kids, since they felt is most ideally suited for classroom use.
Participants were World Bank policy advisor Gail Richardson with Alexander (7) and Jessica (5); stay-at-home mother Heather Jones with Reece (8), Cameron (6) and Meg (4); sales executive Stephanie Kirby with Sarah (6) and Emma (5); Assistant United States Attorney Jay Bratt and writer/editor Elise Yousoufian with Aaron (6) and Hanna (6).
What It Is: The Peace Rug is a beautifully designed 39" X 56" rug packaged with a classroom facilitator's handbook. A storybook, “Eric, Jose, & the Peace Rug,” is separately available from the manufacturer or at amazon.com.
Successfully created and implemented for classroom use, the manufacturer wanted TDmonthlyto have families with children evaluate the product ,since The Peace Rug has been used in a limited number of homes.
What the Parents Thought
Richardson judged the packaging of “Eric, Jose, & the Peace Rug” to be well done — “fun, off-the-beaten-path type of illustrations.” Jones “was eager to learn of a potential method for handling disagreements and confrontation."
The book tells the story of two boys, Eric and Jose, who did not get along and “even hated each other.” They use what the book calls “Peace Rug words”— a series of five phrases that are steps toward resolving conflict. The process involves listening to what the other person needs and stating what you will do. Richardson thought The Peace Rug and the story “complement each other nicely.”
Yousoufian agreed that the rug and book complement one another, but, unlike Richardson, who found the phrases “constructive and helpful,” Yousoufian said the phrasing and concepts were too complicated for her 6-year-olds. She also realized that no one who wanted to use The Peace Rug had to actually sit on it, but could merely invoke its close space to create a climate for safe talk.
How the Kids Reacted
Jones said her two younger children, “had trouble following illustrations and dialogue (which did not always seem to match up).” Yousoufian noted that her daughter was confused by an illustration that showed Jose smiling as he departed on a school bus that left his friend Eric behind, and no one in the family could find the connection between the storyline and Jose’s behavior.
Yet, added Jones, the book did bring her family to discuss what a bully is and how to handle one.
Kirby noted about her 5- and 6-year-old daughters: “They listened politely to the reading … but showed little interest. It may have been that the experiences of the characters in the book were not ones to which they were able to relate.”
Yousoufian said her children’s comments were about things more tangible than conflict resolution. Aaron said his favorite part was “when they [Eric and Jose] were friends,” and Hanna wanted to show her mother her favorite page, saying, as she turned all the pages, that, in fact, she liked them all.
How to Improve It
The mothers agreed that the Peace Rug was designed and seemed best suited for school, rather than home use. Jones and Yousoufian found the written material confusing and the target audience unclear, since it was stated as 4- to 14-year-olds on page two, but pre-K through fifth grade (4 to 11) on page three. [Note from manufacturer: The ages for the material are 4-10 but can be used with children as young as 3. The errors regarding the appropriate age usage have been corrected and we thank the mothers for advising us.]
Page numbers could be added to the book, and story lines and illustrations should match, suggested the parents.
Richardson commented that The Peace Rug would “definitely have to be smaller” for a home setting. She also suggested having “a small card that could be placed with the rug in case kids forget the steps they are supposed to use.”