In our English classrooms we teach far more than just the language. As educators our job is to help children become responsible citizens who care about the world around them. It is essential that children learn values such as tolerance and respect for fellow citizens.
We need to teach children about diversity and celebrating the differences among us. Children also need to learn how to empathize with others, manage their own thoughts and emotions, and make responsible decisions based on social norms and personal integrity.
3 tips for teaching values to young learners
Here are some tips and ideas to help you introduce values into your classes.
1. Model the behavior you want students to display
If you want students to be tolerant and respectful it is absolutely essential that you lead by example. You can do this by:
- Showing students how to listen carefully to each other’s ideas without interrupting
- Being inclusive and celebrating individuality
- Managing your own emotions and making fair decisions in the classroom
2. Use inclusive materials
We need to expose children to people from all walks of life. If your main classroom materials seem to lack diversity, look for pictures, videos or texts that will help foster an inclusive environment and attitude among students.
For more ideas on bringing cultural diversity into your classroom, check out our article: 5 ways to bring cultural diversity into your classroom.
3. Make it real
Values can be abstract and difficult for young students to understand. Always provide practical examples where the value is demonstrated, whether through real people and situations or fictional characters and settings. Organizing a class visit to, for example, a local homeless shelter or nursing home can really help children see the importance of the values they’re learning, while also giving them the opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice.
Teaching values through stories
Fairy tales, fables and traditional stories often have clear morals or values within them – and can be particularly effective in developing social, emotional and citizenship skills. They are well-known in many different cultures and contain themes that young children will easily recognize.
Summer Reading Camp
We’ve put together a collection of resources and materials that will help you use stories to teach values in your lessons.
- Explore the importance of keeping promises and fairness with The Princess and the Frog.
- Consider how we can learn from different people and the importance of listening to advice with The Jungle Book.
- Discuss how everybody is different and the importance of respecting other people’s opinions with Town Mouse and Country Mouse.
- Foster hard work and good behavior with Pinocchio.
- Think about how a positive attitude and self-belief can help you be successful with Peter Pan.
The resources, including downloadable worksheets, challenges, a classroom poster and more, will be available weekly on our dedicated website.
Which values do you teach to your students? Let us know in the comments.