We get excited when it is time to teach about Martin Luther King Junior. Kids at our child care center understand the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. They get the difference between heroes and villains. Even though we have to use age appropriate words and examples, kids still understand right and wrong. When they’re little, they want to be the good guy. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the good guys. He had wonderful values that we support at our child care center. Here are a few small and simple ways to teach about Martin Luther King Jr. and the values that made him the man he was.
Value #1: Nonviolence
Quote: “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
Fact: In 1959, Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to India and learned a lot about Mahatma Gandhi, a man who led nonviolent protests to help people in India gain freedom from British rule. King believed nonviolence — avoiding the use of weapons and physical fighting — was the best way to work toward equality in the U.S. Because of this, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
What you can do: Solve conflicts peacefully, without ever hitting or hurting someone. When you feel angry or upset, express your feelings in words and talk about what you need to make things better.
Value #2: Leadership
Quote: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
Fact: Simple acts often transform people into important leaders. In 1955, a black woman named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man when the “whites only” section of the public bus was full. That sparked Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott — a 13-month protest that helped end segregation on the city’s buses and fueled the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
What kids can do: Be a leader in a club, on a sports team, or in the classroom. Feel confident in yourself, show good sportsmanship, and help your peers work out conflicts.
Value #3: Selflessness
Quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
Fact: Martin Luther King, Jr. became a minister because he said he felt an “inner urge” calling him to “serve humanity.” He knew that becoming a civil rights leader would be dangerous, but he cared more about helping others than protecting himself.
What kids can do: Volunteer to help a charity. Invite friends and relatives to come and volunteer with you.
By talking to your kids, on their level, about the qualities and values of this great man, you will help them develop their own great characters. When you teach about Martin Luther King you will help kids to identify other great people with those same values. Help your kids learn how to be one of the good guys, because the world needs more good guys!