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Fostering Goodness & Caring: Promoting Moral Development Of Young Kids

Fostering Goodness & Caring: Promoting Moral Development Of Young Kids

Early childhood education should address the ethical development of the child

, particularly the caring and empathetic aspects of morality. What could be more significant than teaching our kids a sense of caring and social responsibility? We might teach them reading, writing, math, and computer skills. We might teach them about business, history, and geography. But if we ignore to educate them to be caring and sympathetic, have we actually given them all they need for fulfilling their potential and achieving a sense of joy and happiness in their lives?

Moral Development

Morality and moral development are sometimes defined in terms of objective norms and established standards of behaviors. This view of morality often provides the essential structure for character education programs, where a set of qualities are recognized and promoted. Teacher training institute used the term a bag of virtues in discussing the limits of this customary framework.

Promoting Moral DevelopmentFostering Goodness & Caring: Promoting Moral Development Of Young Kids

Following are six guidelines and suggestions by preschool teacher training courseon how to encourage moral functioning with young kids, especially in relation to caring for others.

1. Help kids understand the reason behind rules, particularly rules relating to such moral concerns as justice, fairness, and other aspects of human welfare. Discuss the reasons why one behavior is preferable to another. In discussing these contrasting behaviors with a young child, the focus should be on how what the child does affects someone else. Such discussions foster empathy, higher levels of moral reasoning, and altruism. These types of discussions also help kids develop perspective-taking abilities in that it focuses on how someone else might think or feel in a given situation.

2. Match your response to conflict situations to the kids level of cognitive and social development. Its important to remember that cognitively young kids have differing understandings of the social and physical world than do older kids and adults. Young kids are egocentric and will thus judge events and behaviors on how such happenings directly affect them. They will find it difficult to simultaneously take into account their own view of things with the perspective of someone else.

3. Attend to the victim first when one child hurts another. Its always important to focus on the feelings of others when dealing with hurtful interpersonal conflicts or transgressions of established classroom rules. Instead of focusing on the concern that the rules have been broken, we should focus on the outcome of how someone has been hurt. This response not only attends to the victims needs but also helps the offending child develop a sense of morality, as caring about the welfare of others is critical to moral functioning.

4. Include animals in the classroom and involve kids in the care of the animals. Tending to the needs of animals requires kids to give thought and attention to something outside of themselves and supports the practice of caring. The professional literature suggests that as kids care for animals, they become more caring towards people as well. Related research also indicates that as kids learn to treat animals with care and respect, they become less likely to treat humans in a violent, disrespectful way. Thus, while bringing animals into the classroom requires careful thought, planning and commitment, the benefits to kids suggest that the effort is indeed worthwhile.

5. Model, encourage, and reward acts of caring. Kids need to see others engaged in acts of kindness and expressions of caring. There are many opportunities for teachers to put this in practice throughout the day. For example, if one child has been absent for several days because of illness, you might suggest making a get-well card for her. Its also important to observe kidss behavior closely and note any acts of kindness and caring. Kids should then be praised when they show empathy for others. Teachers should also suggest ways in which kids can practice acts of kindness in their daily routines for example, holding the door for each other, sharing desired materials, helping when someone has a mess to clean up, etc.


Helping kids achieve success has long been recognized as one of the goals of early childhood education. Defining the meaning of success, however, isnt always easy.

by: John Cruser
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