So you want to teach values and you want to make it fun? You’ve come to the right place. The best go-to for all ages of kids is reading a book. If you need good book recommendations, check out my values book list. Books have such a great way of making values intrinsic. Books can become part of your family culture. Try reading Penguin Says “Please” to a toddler and then the next time you want to remind your kids to say “please,” just say “No, no Penguin, first you must say, ‘please,'” and see how much more fun that reminder is.
Here are three ways to teach values to preschoolers and keep them engaged.
Use a toy or puppet to do the talking. This is something we did in our joy school group, and I’m always amazed at how enthralled preschoolers are by this tactic. My preschoolers love talking to puppets. They’re great at asking those questions that your preschooler seems deaf to.
Sing a song or say a poem. This is a great way to extend values into life. Singing Daniel Tiger jingles or children’s hymns can be a great way to get those values into their heads and hearts.
Draw a picture while you talk. Tell a story that teaches a principle and draw a picture while you do it. My kids love this. And then they have a picture to keep as a reminder.
Teaching School-Aged Kids
Here are three ways to engage your school-aged kids and make it fun.
Role play it. Role play is such a great way for kids to internalize values. They can practice what they would do in a given situation, and then they have a more automatic response ready when they encounter a difficult situation. The other night we role played doing something right while I acted as the friend who tried to convince them to lie or steal. My kids couldn’t get enough of it. They had so much fun, and that practice will make it easier to make a good choice in the future. If you need some more encouragement for role playing, read this.
Use a hands on project. My kids will listen to me talk for a few minutes if they just have something to do with their hands. Pulling out art supplies or building toys is a great way to keep their hands busy so their minds can focus. I can usually read a quote, share an example, and get them to answer a question before they get bored.
Tell them about real people. It’s easy for imaginary characters to make good choices, but when my kids learn that real people made hard choices, they’re amazed. And it makes it that much easier for them to do it.
What techniques do you use to teach your children values?