Play Mountain Place is a community of children and adults. We spend a great deal of time working with the interpersonal communication between and among the children. We also help parents to understand the process and use the skills of non-authoritarian problem solving and peaceful conflict resolution. Adults can also benefit from the support structures available at Play Mountain Place.
Assumptions About Feelings and Communication
- There will always be differences of opinion.
- There will always be conflicts when people work, play or live close together.
- Every person has a right to every feeling they have. There is no need to justify a feeling. It is not an action. All feelings are O.K. Not all actions are O.K.
- Feelings are information. If we can listen to them without judgment, we can enrich our understanding of ourselves and others.
- Feelings might be linked to the current situation, and they might also be linked in emotional memory to a situation in someone’s past that resembles the present, but is not the present.
- Very strong feelings often indicate that, in addition to the disturbing current situation, something in the past is also “triggered.”
- Play Mountain staff members see this phenomenon in the children’s upsets daily. When Play Mountain community members ask adults to “look at their own issues,” it is not instead of working with the current upsetting issue; it is in addition to it, in order to resolve the current issue with less hurt and more clarity.
- When a person has these assumptions about feelings, he/she can use any situation which is upsetting as an opportunity not only to resolve the current upsetting situation with another person, but also as an opportunity to look into what situation in the past, that had some similar element, is still “unfinished” within her/himself and work to resolve that one further.
- “Active listening” time allows a person upset by something to clarify feelings, thoughts, and a plan of communication and action about the situation – at least the next step.
- “Active listening” time allows an upset person to “vent” feelings without hurting anyone, without having to “hold back.” That, in itself, allows for greater exploration of feelings and thoughts, and greater clarity and calm about what might be the clearest and most respectful next step to resolve something.
- Often, if a person has utilized “listening” time for talking through strong feelings, he/she will then be able to say to another person what he/she needs to say in a way that has a better chance to be heard and understood.
- A neutral “facilitator” (with no personal emotional involvement in the issue) in a meeting between people, at least one of whom had a problem to bring up, can aid in assuring that each person gets heard by the other person, so that a resolution is more likely to occur.
Problem Solving Steps
- Recognize that I am feeling upset.
- Try to think clearly about what the problem is, and with whom I have the problem.
- Get “active listening” from a skilled “listener.” Hold back from gossiping, or venting my feelings, except to a “listener.”
- Do “anger release” with the listener, if I need to, or privately on my own.
- Get as clear as I can, now, about what the problem is, with whom I have the problem, and decide when and how best to approach the person with whom I have the problem. Decide if I want to talk with the person with, or without, a “facilitator” present.
- Check in with a “facilitator” if I want one.
- Contact the person with whom I have the problem. Ask for a time to talk, and if using a facilitator, ask if the person is okay with the facilitator I want. If not, select a facilitator with whom we are both comfortable.
- If the first meeting without a facilitator resolves the issue, it’s done.
- If the first meeting without a facilitator does not resolve the issue, consider a meeting with a facilitator.
- If the “facilitated” meeting doesn’t resolve the issue, try a second meeting.
- If you are making progress, try a third meeting.
- If you are not making progress, try a different facilitator, or agree that each person will set up “active listening” time with “listeners” of their choice to get even clearer on the issues and feelings for each person, before another meeting.
- Have another “facilitated” meeting.
- If it is an issue at school, and hasn’t gotten resolved, contact the Director about the next steps to take. If it is an issue with the Director, and isn’t getting resolved, ask for one or more of the facilitators to participate in the meetings.
- If the issue is not getting resolved after several listening times and several facilitated meetings, it might be time to look at next steps each person would take if an issue was not able to be resolved. Not every issue can be resolved. It is discouraging and un-empowering for all involved to meet indefinitely without resolution. Agreeing openly to disagree is sometimes a solution, and is more respectful than being mad at each other, unacknowledged, and having it leak out. Decide how to move to closure.
We are dedicated to supporting open channels of communication, information sharing, and decision making among adults at Play Mountain Place. We want genuine involvement of each adult member of the Play Mountain Place community. If you have a problem or an issue to explore or changes you would like to see, the following guidelines have evolved to foster good communication. We encourage all parents to use any or all of them.
- Speak up early when you realize you have a problem or strong feelings about an issue.
- Use the communication and conflict resolution skills taught in the Communication Skills Workshop.
- Below are possible options for you to communicate your concerns or get support:
- Speak with your child’s teacher.
- Bring up issue at a Parent Meeting.
- Speak with the Director.
- Use a Play Mountain Place staff member or “listener” to gain clarity about issues when you have very strong feelings (they can keep confidentiality).
- Ask for a facilitated meeting to deal with inter-personal conflict that can’t be resolved directly with the other person.
Communication Skills Workshop
At the Communication Skills Workshop, parents and staff learn respectful ways of communicating thoughts, feelings and personal limits (e.g. I-Messages), and respectful ways of listening to others, in particular listening for the feelings the other person is expressing (e.g. active listening). Practice is offered in facilitating a problem between two or more people. In this valuable class, participants learn to de-polarize problems and move towards “win-win” solutions.
Attendance at the workshop is required for all new parents and staff during their first year at Play Mountain Place. The workshop is four sessions, offered once a week for 3 hours on a weekend day or on weekday evenings. The workshop series is usually offered in the fall, and sometimes Parent Seminars or refresher courses are also offered . The cost of the parent education program is included in your Peaceful Parenting Program fee.
Parent Meetings offer parents an opportunity for closer connection to other parents in their group and their teachers. The meetings are a chance for communication within the group of any current topics, sharings, guidelines, feedback, and appreciation. The program staff strongly encourages parents to attend as many of these meetings as possible as these meetings are an integral part of developing parenting skills and community during your tenure at Play Mountain Place.
Support for Adult’s Feelings
Supporting children’s feelings can certainly be challenging and can bring up lots of feelings in the adults who care for them. Here are some ideas for getting some support for your feelings:
- Find a bit of time and space away from your child.
- Call another parent or teacher for listening time (away from your child).
- Do moosh (playfully, in front of your child – away from your child for full venting of feelings).
- Sometimes outside counseling or therapeutic support is helpful.
One of the resources we provide for parents attending Play Mountain Place is our School Library. Located next to Little Nursery, the Library is accessible via the alley, and full of wonderful parenting resources. The library is not always open; we frequently have meetings in that space, and its first purpose is for our staff needs. However, if you are interested in checking it out (and possibly checking something out), we can show you in the office how to find out if the library is available, and also, how to get into the library. If you do end up checking something out, we have a lending library binder in the office that acts as our librarian. Since this is also the staff library, many of the staff often need the books that are provided there. Please note that if you borrow a book, that we would like it returned in a timely manner.
The Weekly Notice is distributed weekly via email on Mondays to parents and staff. Please be sure to take a look every week. It contains important information about deadlines, announcements, reminders, events and more. We will also send other important memos and notices to you via email. Please check your email often, and read all communications from the school thoroughly.
There is a community bulletin board outside the kitchen door that is available to our entire community to post items that may be of interest. Please post the item with your name and date written on the front. Please borrow a stapler from the office to post your announcement (since this is a high traffic area, we ask that no tacks be used). We do have a few limits about what gets posted; if you are unsure about what’s appropriate to post, please check in with administration staff. We remove posted items every two weeks, and/or after the event occur.
Each Group has its own bulletin board for Group news and community news to share with the groups. Please check in with the teachers if you would like to post anything in your group’s area. Also, you may notice there are several other bulletin boards around our school; please do not post anything on these boards as they are for office and school business only.
The School Roster has current contact information for all parents and staff during the school year. Roster updates are distributed via the Weekly Notice when changes occur (please make sure the office knows about any address changes, new work numbers, etc).