When you are operating a daycare, you may spend time with the same children day in day out for as long as 6-8 hours a day. And while all you are required to do it deliver them to their parents that night safe and relatively happy to have been successful, when you think of how long you have access to those young minds, why not use the activities you plan to help them learn strong values as well as have fun?
Aside from the altruistic reasons for helping young people become better persons, there are some real benefits to teaching good social skills and strong ethics and values in your daycare citizens in the social and playtimes you plan for them. The extent to which a child learns to behave in an ethical and virtuous way at a young age will not only affect them throughout their life, it will change how they behave in daycare.
Children are profoundly selfish creatures. Actually we all are that way but children are more direct and uncensored in focusing on their own wants. Those instincts lead to a lot of the conflicts and fights you have to break up all day long. So if the children learn to treat each other with respect as a value and they learn to live in an ethical manner, then their lives together at daycare will be much more peaceful which makes for a better experience for daycare workers as well. Thus, that moment comes when little James wants to and can steal little Ruth’s cookies if he chooses not to because you taught James some values, he is a better person, you have a more peaceful daycare and Ruth gets to keep her cookie.
But there is another level of reward to teaching good values to children in the games you play and actives you plan at daycare. Ethical and moral people are happier people. By teaching children to respect each other and to live in harmony with each other and with the world around them, they develop self-respect as a by-product. That self-respect is a trait in a child that can change them profoundly from the inside out. Not only will the play and interact with the other children at daycare better, you will literally send them home better people and mom and dad will notice it too.
One value that does not come naturally to children is tolerance of each other. Despite a strong emphasis on tolerance of other religions and races at a cultural level that children will echo because they know they should, children and young teens are a notoriously brutal group on each other. This is particularly true in girl only situations where the ability of girls to bully and intimidate each other is amazing. So if we can teach tolerance and mutual support in children at a daycare level, those could be values that might change youth culture for decades to come.
It is possible to introduce tolerance based civilities without becoming preachy about it. And it is important not to fall into the trap of preaching or being moralistic with the young because that will just cause them to tune us out. But if we can introduce games that utilize the skills and talents of everybody in the daycare social group, you will begin to see the lights come on as they realize that they were wrong to look down on another child because he or she was handicapped or another race. Moreover, if the group activity or game puts a child into a team setting with someone they might be tempted to be intolerant of, that is a natural environment for all the children to appreciate each other’s true talent and value to the group. Not only will this change the way the children see each other and bring more tolerance to the group at large, but it will also give children who were otherwise excluded from social acceptance a wonderful feeling of self-esteem that can send them home glowing about their time at daycare.