How to Teach Preschoolers the Golden Rule
Preschool age students are still developing a sense of others and their feelings. According to psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg of the University of Chicago, the "Golden Rule" at that age is "If someone hits you, you hit them back." Teaching young children the traditional Golden Rule, or, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," is an important part of their moral education, but should be done at a level they can understand, through songs, pictures and stories.
Read a story about the Golden Rule. You may choose to read the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan or another picture book involving someone mistreating someone, such as The Rabbit and the Elephant, a Ghanaian folk tale found in the book "A Piece of the Wind" or the "Baby Rattlesnake" picture book.
Ask the children to talk about how they like to be treated by their parents, their teachers and their friends. Ask them to give examples of things they like and do not like. Suggest that they practice doing those things with others.
Ask the children what they would do if they saw someone fall down or get hurt. Discuss ways they can help and be kind to others.
Use simple language to share the Golden Rule. Instead of saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," teach them such phrases as, "We don't hurt" or "We share our toys."
Create a craft project to illustrate the Golden Rule. You may choose to have them paint bees and write "Bee Kind" on the bee, or color in a picture of two children sharing or one child helping another.
Teach them a song about the Golden Rule. You can use a song that has the Golden Rule in the lyrics or choose a familiar song about sharing, such as Raffi's "Sharing Song" or "Are You Sharing?" to the tune of "Are you sleeping?" Singer Jim Rule's song "The Golden Rule" or Jack Hartmann's "Show Kindness Every Day" also incorporate the words or principles of the Golden Rule into music preschoolers will enjoy.
- 1 University of Illinois at Chicago: Studies in Social and Moral Development and Education: Moral Development and Moral Education: An Overview
- 2 Sunday School Fun Zone: "Golden Rule" Preschool / Toddler Sunday School Lesson, Crafts and Activities
- 3 Unitarian Universalist Association: Religious Education Golden Rule Role Play Scenarios