Suggestions for EQ4Peace Clubs
A Few Suggestions About How You Can Start and Maintain Your Own EQ Club
Goals: The goals of EQ4Peace clubs are as follows:
- To learn and practice the behaviors of positive EQ & peace
- To support and continue the priorities and beliefs of EQ4Peace.org
- To learn how to resolve conflicts of different kinds & places in a peaceful way
- Ultimately, to support & spread peaceful behaviors & thinking in all aspects of our lives, i.e. homes & families, classrooms, schools, & playgrounds, towns, churches, & villages, cities, & nations
Please note: what follows are mere suggestions of things you might consider when planning and running your club. Ultimately, though, we trust you to build or modify these suggestions and make them right for you & your members.
Remember: the focus for these groups is to offer kids ways and thoughts about peace
The 1st meeting might address & accomplish these topics:
- Welcome everyone and share your enthusiasm for what the club might do and accomplish.
- Learn everyone’s name. (The members should also learn everyone’s name.) There are games you can play to facilitate this. A few are listed on the activities sheet.
- You might also take a break from “meeting” part and have each member create their own name tag that includes their names in big letters and the word “Peacemaker” below them. String could be tied to them and each member would wear them around their necks during club meetings and functions.
- Discuss administrative information, i.e. when & where the club will meet, how everyone will sit.
- You might also ask: Why did we form this club? What is the purpose of this club?
- What do we want to accomplish during our club meetings?
- Have the members give suggestions that they’d like to include in the club’s guidelines about behavior, respect, name-calling, put-downs, speaking, and listening guidelines. A few suggestions are listed below. The important ones for you can called “non-negotiable”. This means that you will comment every time you hear or see these behaviors. After these have been written down, preferably on large paper that can be put on the wall each meeting, it’s a good idea to have the members vote for acceptance. These are the first steps to creating an emotionally safe environment. Most important, you must both follow and call out anyone who breaks these every time.
- Another activity you might do at the first or second club meeting is to create collectively a name for the club and/or design a flag that can be hung outside signaling an upcoming meeting.
- The Opening: (15-20 minutes)
When members enter, have them sit in a circle. It’s a great way to start and helps students to bond with each other and their leaders. This strategy also makes it so everyone can see each other and talk directly to each other. The leaders should be sitting on the same level as the students and as a part of the circle. This gives the subtle message that “we are all in this together”, and “I have things to learn as well.” (Glasser, 2013).
There are a variety of ways and purposes to other types of circles members can make.
Group Model #1: Magic Circles
The circle represents the on-going cycle of life and can serve as a boundary for role playing with the actors being in the middle. I like introducing the concept of “inclusion” and “integration” at this time as well. By integration I mean by gender, but it can also have other meanings as well. A completely integrated circle would be one where boys and girls are sitting alternating by gender around the circle. Noting the importance of being able to work, play, and sit next to anyone is important to the group’s success. It’s an excellent example of acceptance and tolerance as well. When you first do this, there might be some discomfort and giggling, but if it’s important to you, then they’ll do it.
Group Model #2: Everyone in the middle
This model works the best when you’re disseminating information or important content.
It brings the members closer to the leader so understanding is better and questions can be asked and answered more efficiently.
Group Model #3: The Goldfish Bowl
This is where there is a small inner circle and a larger circle surrounding that one. The inner circle is the focus and are actively solving problems, discussing concepts, etc. The outer circle are observers watching how the interactions of the inner group go, i.e. participation, body language, EI skills, success in solving problems, etc. This strategy needs to be debriefed by both circles in the presence of the entire group afterwards.
Starting the meeting suggestion #1:
If members enter at different times, you might want them to write in their journals first. You can put on the board or on a paper on the wall a prompt for them to respond to in their journals as soon as they sit down. The prompts can be related to the previous session, some topic that you’re going to address today, or something else. Starting this way creates a semi-quiet environment which is a good starting place for the meeting. It also allows late comers to not feel left behind or excluded.
My thoughts are that these journals are theirs and are confidential. You promise not to look at them unless you are concerned about them individually or the member has turned it in at the end of the previous session. This is the signal that they want you to comment on their entry.
Starting the meeting suggestion #2:
Another way to start the meeting is the opposite of doing something quiet and sedentary. It can be equally effective depending from where your members are coming from and their present energy level. Starting with a game or other energy release can be a good idea from time to time.
Part B: Check-ins: (@5-10 mins)
The opening is a good time to do a “check in” with everyone. This should take about 5-10 minutes but depending on the sharing, it could take longer. This is simply going around the circle and asking members to say how/what they’re feeling or how their day was. You can also give more specific questions. If the content is emotion-packed, you might want to let it go longer for a while.
It’s important that all members get an equal opportunity to share, or at least close to it. The feeling of belonging is important, as is the feeling that every member is contributing in some way. Go around the circle until everyone has had a chance to speak, including the adults.
Another way to do a check-in is to have pairs or trios answer these questions to each other. Then, if you desire, they can share out to the larger group.
It’s important that the leader participates in these check-ins as well. It gives a strong message that you are willing to take a risk that others could follow. Giving examples from your own life helps to demonstrate that you’re feeling safe enough to share, encouraging the members.
Before starting the check-in, it’s a good idea to review the group’s guidelines for listening and behavior. Maintaining a safe environment is critical to the success of any club. (See listening skills below.) The check in is when each member takes a turn and answers a quick question or prompt that the leader asks. Examples of questions can be:
- How are you today?
- What are you feeling right now?
- How was your day?
- What is one thing that you enjoyed about today?
- Name one thing you did today that was fun?
- Were there things about today that were hard or challenging for you?
- This is also a good time to give a prompt related to the topic you addressed at the last meeting, like, “Did anyone have to persevere with something that was difficult today?”
- When was the last time you were angry? Tell us about it.
- Do you know what bullying means? Have you ever been bullied?
Part C: Reviewing the previous meeting’s main points:
Depending on how you ended the previous meeting, this is a good time to review what you did/discussed the time before. It’s also a good time for members to write in their journals. Asking if any of them had an opportunity to use or apply the skills learned previously or talking to their parents about it.
Another part of envisioning the parts of the school day could be role-playing some of these parts. This will enable the students to practice the various types of conversations. These could be videotaped and then critiqued by all of the classmates in order to improve the practice of conversation and discussion.
The group practicing good listening skills is important, especially when members are sharing important and personal information later on. A few of them can include:
- making eye contact with the speaker
- no playing with objects in their hands
- no side conversations
- sit appropriately, don’t get up unless absolutely necessary
- no put downs or criticizing anyone
If you want your members to follow the guidelines, you’ll have to be completely consistent with expecting and enforcing them. Eventually you shouldn’t have to spend so much time with this. When re-directing member behavior be sure to:
- identify the undesirable behavior (“I didn’t like it when you shouted an answer to that question. It took away the opportunity for others to participate. That’s disrespectful and exclusive.”)
- state that the person is a desirable part of the group; (“I really like you and would enjoy it if you could stay with us.”)
- give them a choice to stay with a different behavior or to leave the group until they can return with a different behavior (“You can either stay and act appropriately or sit outside for a few minutes until you’re ready to return to the group.”)
While there have already been a number of ways to assure members of respect and emotional safety, it’s good to review these periodically. It is up to you, though, to be totally consistent with addressing any hurting statements and transgressions of the guidelines immediately. A few of the strategies that help to create a safe environment are:
- create a positive atmosphere; smile a lot
- include humor and other forms of play into your group interactions
- model appropriate behavior and respect
- sharing your own personal stories. (appropriate ones of course)
- encourage participation
- statements of approval, for example: students you’ve noticed following directions
- continue to do “get to know you” games and activities throughout the year
- use cooperative games and activities to help kids to know each other
- give roles to different members, changing periodically, giving them opportunities to be responsible and successful, having members act of leaders, roll-takers, distributor of materials , clean up, etc
Optional: A Snack (5-10 minutes)
Depending on where kids are coming from, i.e. school, home, other classes, etc. a snack might be a good idea. For many kids, food is a good motivator and can make the meetings more desirable. This is optional though and should be healthy and small and quickly distributed with little or no clean-up.
Making the club special:
Clubs are a great way to gather with others and discuss/engage about topics related to EQ, EI, or peace. I’ve found that having some sort of physical sign can help attract people and make everyone feel special and a part of something bigger than they are. Shirts with the EQ4Peace logo on it, hats, or armbands are a few ways to identify the group members.
Making name tags first day is an excellent way to make your getting to know everyone a bit easier. Name tags can be made out of paper or tagboard and tied with yarn or string to go around the members’ necks. They should put these on first thing upon arrival and take them off before leaving to be used again at the next meeting. The nametags could be “personalized” with pens or crayons to make each one unique. Of course, make sure the name stands out them.
Another thing you can do is to create a large painting, sign, or flag to hang outside announcing the upcoming meeting. Students helping to make this is also a good idea.
And yet another idea is to create with the members a secret handshake of some sort. It can be easy and fast to do, but if it only belongs to members, it sets apart from people who don’t know it. I’ve actually seen this done with great success.
- The Main Part of the meeting. (20-30 minutes)
The next part of the meeting is usually the main activity or topic for the day. These could vary from day to day. They can be about an EQ skill, keyword, or about the nature of peace. It can be about things that the members are concerned about and/or are experiencing themselves at home or at school. They can be about community, city or village, or national issues or concerns. They can be art projects, books read to them (see list of EI/EQ/Peace-related Activities), movies or something to watch that has an EQ or peace message in it, it can also be a game or activity that is in the resources for the kids page or your own activity.
You might also start discussions with some of the following questions:
- What does respect look, sound, and feel like?
- What is the culture of our classroom? What do we want it to feel like?
- What would a good discussion look like?
- What would a good recess look like?
- What should we expect when we are out at recess?
- What would be a good signal be for us to be ready to move on and/or to focus.
- What would responsibility look like for all members of our classroom?
- Why are we having this discussion in class?
- Why are we talking about emotions?
- Debriefing (15-20 minutes)
Possibly the most important part of the group meeting in my opinion is the debriefing part. This is spending time together in an integrated circle, having everyone share what they just did, what they learned, and why they learned it. Next have members explain why this is important in their lives, how its related to creating peace, and how they are going to use that skill at home. This can be followed by writing their thoughts on the day in their personal journals. All of these strategies for debriefing are excellent ways for members to better internalize lessons and experiences.
During this short period, have the members reflect on personal involvement and engagement, and level of acceptable behavior and listening skills used. I’ve found that adding this piece of debriefing greatly improves behavior and involvement. You can even ask everyone to think of behavior/contribution goals for next time.
- Give an “assignment” for next time
As a closing statement, ask the students to next time bring in stories about the concept that you discussed today. Ideally, they can tell anecdotes about the skill they learned and where they used them or not. They can also ask their parents for examples.
This is a sample routine for a club meeting. Of course, these meetings could deviate from this model from time to time. It’s been found, though, that kids with learning differences operate better when there is an anticipated schedule. Writing it on the board also helps these students.
*Please note that most, if not all, of the following books are based on true stories.
These stories are interesting & appropriate for all ages.
N., Sam M.S., “MAGIC CIRCLE,” in PsychologyDictionary.org, April 7, 2013, https://psychologydictionary.org/magic-circle/ (accessed February 7, 2022).
ORDINARY MARY’S EXTRAORDINARY DEED by Emily Pearson and Fumi Kosaka; 2002.
(demonstrates the real possibility of reaching and changing the world)
Random Acts of Kindness; 1994; editors conari press.
(ideas and examples of how to spread kindness)
Random Acts of Kindness for Kids; 1994; editors conari press.
(ideas and examples of how kids spread kindness)
Read to kids: Fill your Kindness Bucket (demonstrates giving and kindness to others)
Read to kids over a couple of days: Planting the Trees of Kenya; by Claire Nivola; 2008.
(true story of how villages in Africa were changed by small efforts)
Read to kids: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain; by Verna Aardema; 1981.
Read examples to kids: Kids Who Are Changing the World; Anne Jankeliowitch; 2012.
New Games Dolphin Books/Doubleday & Company, Inc.; 1976.
(many excellent games that are cooperative and challenging)
More New Games Dolphin Books/Doubleday & Company, Inc.; 1981.
(more games that emphasize cooperation and teamwork)
Read to kids: Craig Kielberger books: It Takes a Child; 2008. (the true story of how an 11-year-old created the largest org of kids helping kids internationally)
Use as a resource: 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth; Scholastic; 1990.
The Earth Needs Your Child
Teacher and parent resource: Manual on Nonviolence and Children; edited by Stephanie Judson; 1984.
Teacher and parent resource: Learning the Skills of Peacemaking; by Naomi Drew; 1987.
Teacher and parent resource: Peace is the Way; Deepak Chopra; 2005.
Teacher and parent resource: The Power of Now; Eckhart Tolle; 1999.
Teacher and parent resource: Take Action, A Guide to Active Citizenship; Marc and Craig Kielberger; 2007.
A concept worth teaching kids and adults: The Butterfly Effect; Andy Andrews; 2009.
The Kids Guide to Service Projects, Barbara Lewis; 2009.
The Kid Who Changed the World; Andy Andrews; 2014.
(Based on a true story demonstrating how one action can affect the future in big ways.)