Much is heard saying that today’s society is experiencing a crisis of values, so it is urgent that early childhood education contemplate a pedagogy to reinforce the learning of values in children in their daily activities. But, it cannot be forgotten that education in values begins at home.
In schools, from the first years of childhood education, the teaching of values for children has been prioritized, since these represent a moral pillar in the lives of people and the development of society.
The children of today will be the citizens of tomorrow and if we want whole people in the future, it is important to teach fundamental values from an early age. Consequently, we must work to train responsible adults, respectful and capable of making the right decisions for themselves, as well as for the society in which they live.
What are values?
Values can be defined as principles and norms that are accepted in society to establish the correct way to behave. These characteristics are appreciated and it is considered that they should be preserved, as well as replicated in all good citizens.
Among these fundamental principles we can mention: love, fidelity, honesty, trust, respect, humility, understanding, prudence, kindness, courage, gratitude, tolerance, optimism, solidarity, among others.
Each of these represent daily learning that we apply in our lives since we are very young and that are shaped by the environment in which we are or the family in which we grow up.
In general, values are classified according to their nature or historical construction, also depending on the area of life in which they are applied. For this reason, they can be divided into fundamental or universal values, personal, family, work, religious, political, among others, and the same value can be repeated in different categories.
Below we summarize some of these values.
- Universal values : They are those considered as positive norms that should govern society and that are shared in different cultures: respect for life, freedom, honesty, love, peace, self-control, respect, solidarity, etc.
- Personal values : They are those that are applied day by day in all contexts of the individual, forming part of their habits: respect for parents and children, honesty, kindness, empathy, among others.
- Family values : They are the ones that predominate in the affective ties of a family and that can be maintained generation after generation: devotion to ancestors, respect for traditions, protection of the weakest, etc.
- Work values : Are those applied in the workplace that are in tune with the values of the company or workplace: they can be perseverance, teamwork, tolerance, adaptation to change and others.
Now, when we talk about values in early childhood education, we must focus on what a 5-year-old child should know. In this way, strategies and activities can be defined that allow reinforcing the concepts that the children already know about certain values and that, probably, they have learned in the family environment.
A very clear example of what we are talking about is when the child is taught from an early age the habit of making his child’s bed every day when he gets up. Something as simple as this can foster responsibility and a sense of order in a 5-year-old.
Consequently, it will be easier for this child each day at school to help collect the toys or materials used in the class, as well as to tidy up the place for the next day.
That is why the first years of a person are essential to introduce values in their daily lives, with the family being the main model to follow. However, there are numerous cases of children who did not receive home education on values; and as they grew up they were able to break the family paradigms to make a difference and be people with ethical and moral principles. But, this is another topic that we will not talk about now, because our goal is to understand the importance of educating in values from childhood.
What is values education?
Currently, pedagogical education must be linked to emotional education and the teaching of values for children. Many psychologists and studies on parenting show that it is not enough to focus on teaching literacy, knowledge and mathematical calculations to children if they do not know how to express their emotions or show empathy and respect to other people, starting with the classmates they frequent. daily.
In this sense, there are different activities to work on values in the children’s classroom implicitly and explicitly, which allow children to adopt these behaviors based on ethical and moral principles to apply them in their daily lives. However, at this stage the synergy between school and family is of the utmost importance so that there is coherence in the teaching of these values.
Starting by making a list of values that are going to be the norms of the class can be a way to introduce children to this concept. In this way, they will decide how to respect the classmate, collaborate with the teachers, share the work material and respect the common good, that is, take care of the school facilities. These are some of the actions that every day serve as examples of values and that children must apply to comply with the rules.
These behaviors will become habits that children can maintain in places other than school, thus becoming people with character and principles.
Importance of education in values in children
We are emphatic in affirming that the teaching of values must begin within the home, since parents and family are the main ethical reference models that the child has in his early years of development.
Therefore, it is a misconception to think that children will only learn values at school, since it is at home that they must acquire their first ethical and moral foundations.
On the other hand, the school becomes a leading stage for the little ones, where they can practice their values in the innumerable circumstances that will arise. Similarly, they could reinforce the positive values they bring from home and learn new communication strategies and actions that help them achieve a healthy coexistence.
Values for working with children
In early childhood and primary education, various strategies can be used to teach children what are the main values that they should practice from an early age, such as respect for the diversity of races, religions, traditions and cultures; love for nature, honesty, empathy, organization, responsibility, among many others.
Currently, multimedia resources have become powerful and effective tools to teach children about these fundamental concepts of coexistence . For example, on video platforms such as YouTube there are many short films with values for children, available to watch for free, that capture the attention of children because they are cartoons that show a story full of emotion, empathy and many values.
Watching these short films to work on family values represents an opportunity to talk with the children about the content of the short film, listen to their opinions about what they saw and what attitudes can be considered values.
Likewise, recess time, meal time or the moments in which recreational activities are carried out are also spaces to promote education in values . In the same way, it is worth emphasizing the importance of not only explaining to children what the important values are, it is necessary for them to see how parents and educators practice such values, so that they understand that there is coherence between what is said and what is said. it does.
In this sense, it is necessary to work on values in primary school and in all stages of education, as well as in any social or extracurricular activity that children carry out. The reason is that all these experiences will add to the integral formation of the individual to forge the ethical principles that will prevail in his life.
Educating in values, how do I do it?
- Give the example
Whether at school or at home, setting an example is the best way to teach children values, since they repeat the behaviors they observe on a daily basis: seeing their parents separate the garbage and not throwing waste on the ground is a way of telling them that it is important to take care of the environment. Also, watching them give up their seat on the bus to an elderly person teaches them respect for older adults and empathy.
- Literary resources
In children’s stories and stories we find teachings of morals and values that children can understand in an entertaining way. Parents and teachers can tell these stories and then discuss with the children what they have learned.
- Active participation
Teaching solidarity to children can not be so difficult if we involve them in the activities related to donations. You can ask them to choose old clothes that are in good condition, as well as toys that are no longer used to take them to a collection center for people in need. You can also make them participants in the food drive for needy families. In this way they can understand the importance of helping the most vulnerable.
- Validate your emotions
At school there may be many situations in which children must learn to channel their emotions and express what they feel, while respecting the opinions of their classmates. In this sense, teachers become modulators of the process to teach children to feel empathy while being honest. This is a way to validate their emotions and show them that just as their feelings are important, so are those of the rest of the class.
- Offer unconditional support
Children need to trust their parents and teachers, so that when they don’t know how to react to a certain situation, they can get the necessary guidance and act correctly. For this reason, we should always talk about the possibility of making mistakes and that we can all make mistakes at some point, being of great importance that children see adults apologize and correct their mistakes, showing that we can also learn from mistakes.
- continuous reinforcement
Educating in values is not a once-a-week subject. We are talking about daily learning that must be continually reinforced by example. Likewise, parents should talk to their children about certain actions, tell them what values are represented in them and what their meaning is, at the same time that they demonstrate it in their daily activities. In this way, the little ones learn what these values are and how to use them in their daily lives.
- No abuse
To teach values it is not necessary to shout or force children, because what is generated is a completely opposite effect: children associate the practice of values with pain and fear, without really understanding their importance. In this sense, it is important to promote respectful parenting and teach children from love, cultivating patience so that they can learn, according to their age, the meaning of the values that they will maintain in their lives.
And the countervalues?
Currently, our society is surrounded by negative influences that can distort children’s perception of the world in which they live. That is why children in kindergarten should also be told about countervalues.
If the values are all those norms accepted in society to live in harmony, the countervalues are just the opposite. In this way, it is simply explained to them that selfishness is the counterpart of gratitude, dishonesty is that of honesty, and so on.
The idea is that children know that these negative behaviors should not be adopted by them, because that would make them unpleasant and unhappy people. Therefore, the best way to avoid these negative values is precisely by promoting the practice of values.
And it is here where we reiterate the importance of education in values from the first years of school and childhood, since only through this teaching will children be able to have their own criteria, make correct decisions and face all stages with maturity. of their life.
It is also at this point where adults, parents or teachers, must reflect on our own values and whether or not we really apply them in our daily lives. How can we be better role models for children? What habits should we change to instill more values in our children or students? These are just some of the questions that we must ask ourselves as an existential question, because if we want a more equitable, fair, tolerant, honest, respectful society and a long etcetera, we must start with ourselves.
In this way we will be consistent when raising and educating the children of today, who will be the adults of tomorrow. Let us ask ourselves, what kind of citizens do we want in our society? and we will be able to understand the true importance of education in values.