Twenty years ago, William Damon (The Moral Child, 1988) offered this set of principles for guiding a comprehensive approach to children's moral education. They were, he claimed, based on current social scientific knowledge.
1. Simply by virtue of their participation in essential social relationships, children encounter the classic moral issues facing humans everywhere: issues of fairness, honesty, responsibility, kindness, and obedience.
2. The children's moral awareness is shaped and supported by natural emotional reactions to observations and events.
3. Relations with parents, teachers, and other adults introduce the child to important social standards, rules, and conventions. Moreover, these relations generate knowledge and respect for the social order itself.
4. Relations with peers introduce children to norms of direct reciprocity and to standards of sharing, cooperation, and fairness.
5. Because children's morality is shaped (though not wholly created) through social influence, broad variations in social experience can lead to broad differences in children's moral orientations.
6. Moral growth in school settings is governed by the same developmental processes that apply to moral growth everywhere.
I suggest that Damon's principles are still valid and that research in recent decades – including new discoveries about neurological function – have supported rather than supplanted these basic principles. Note that relations and emotions constitute the medium of moral development as Damon understands it.
In other places, I have written about the centrality of relation to educational efforts and have begun to focus more recently about educating the emotions with a focus on fear as a feature of educational experience. That may explain why I think Damon has it right.