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Tips for Teaching Values in the Primary Classroom

Two children carrying colourful toysTeachers play an important role in a child’s awareness of politeness, kindness, sharing etc. Susan Banman Sileci, co-author of the new Primary course, Everybody Up, shares some of her ideas on how to bring values into the classroom.

Every year, I hear more and more about teaching values in the classroom. Some governments suggest that teachers do it. Some schools enroll students by telling parents that its teachers do it. Some parents specifically ask teachers to help them out by teaching values.

It might seem like you’re being asked to do too much when, on top of teaching English, you have to teach students to be kind, helpful, fair, polite and careful while learning about recycling, caring for the environment and respecting the world around them. You might shake your head and say, “It just can’t be done.”

I suggest it can, and, chances are, you’re already doing it!

As a teacher, one of the most important things you can do is lead by example. There’s no point in asking our students to be helpful and polite when we don’t hold the door open for others or we don’t say “Please” and “Thank you.” Being nice, kind and fair is something most of us do naturally (because someone else, years ago, taught us to do it!) but it’s important to remember, especially for teachers of young children, that our students are watching our every move. They are learning important lessons about how the world works by what they see.

As a mother and teacher myself, I know that setting an example isn’t enough. My teenage daughters will sit on the sofa and watch me clean the house around them without offering to help. I’m always surprised that seeing me dust and sweep doesn’t make them think it might be time to help, but it’s clear that my example isn’t enough. They need specific instructions.

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