PrimaryEthics@Home: info for parents and carers

Welcome to PrimaryEthics@Home! Here you’ll find background reading and activities designed to help further ethical discussion with your children at home.

Make sure you’re subscribed to the PrimaryEthics@Home email, which gives you a monthly update on which topics your child is discussing in ethics class.

Questions & Puzzlement, Pride, Being Selfish and A Fair Society – our first email edition of PrimaryEthics@Home for 2018 will introduce the first topics covered in ethics classes in term 1.

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Background to ethics classes

Every day parents, families and teachers help children form their own opinions about ethical issues. Other factors, like media and culture, have an influence too. In ethics classes, children can articulate their ideas and explore ethical issues together by listening to each other, discussing respectfully and applying critical thinking skills like using reason and evidence and evaluating arguments.

Our skills based program is designed to support the important work of parents, carers and teachers by giving children the confidence and skills to talk about ethical issues with those around them. These are important life-long skills aimed at helping children make well considered decisions rather than acting out of habit or peer pressure.

Primary Ethics offers a unique program which challenges children to work with their classmates to tackle ethical dilemmas. The program enables parent and community volunteers to be trained as facilitators and make a valuable and rewarding contribution to schools.

 Children regularly say the skills they develop in ethics help them to problem solve in their everyday lives.

Questions to ask my child

Ethics students often say they like talking to their families about the topics they cover in ethics. In these classes, children are encouraged to be curious, ask lots of questions and think deeply about ethical issues. If you ask them what they learned in ethics class, they may have trouble coming up with a simple answer! Instead, you may find it useful to ask your children open-ended questions to help encourage discussion, such as:

  • what stories did you hear in ethics class today?
  • what different ideas did you hear?
  • did anyone give a reason or point of view that you hadn’t thought of?
  • did anyone change their mind?         

Resources for parents and carers

If you’re new to the concepts behind philosophical ethics, this short video is a great place to start.

Primary Ethics curriculum objectives

The approach taken by Primary Ethics is that ethical exploration in the classroom is best done through dialogue and discussion – a tradition of philosophical inquiry that goes right back to Socrates and which is tied to the substantive idea of living an ‘examined life’. This approach has significant social benefits. By learning to think about ethical matters together and through the give-and-take of reasoned argument, students will learn to consider other people’s points of view and to be sincere, reasonable and respectful in dealing with their differences and disagreements. Read more about the objectives.

Primary Ethics curriculum overview

Volunteer ethics teachers use detailed lesson materials to deliver a curriculum of 79 topics. Read about the focus for each stage and see all the curriculum topics here.

Further reading

What is ethics? This article from the Ethics Centre gives a good overview of how ethics is relevant in our every day lives.

Teaching kids philosophy makes them smarter in math and English was published in Quartz magazine: “Nine- and 10-year-old children in England who participated in a philosophy class once a week over the course of a year significantly boosted their math and literacy skills.”