I will readily admit that having 12 years of religious (Catholic) education is a large part of why I have put so much thought into what principles I hold and what actions are moral vs. immoral.
That said, I don't view religion as a prerequisite for principles and morals. Like most things, religious education has its pros and cons. If it is what you want for you or your kids, then go for it. But if you don't want a religious education for your kids, then you absolutely should plan for how you'll teach your child about principles and morals.
While kids naturally pick up a lot from observing adults and others, principles are simply too important to leave it at that! While you won't be able to control every moral that your child develops, giving them a structured understanding from an early age will enable them to make more sense of the world and be more confident in the conclusions that they do reach as they grow through adolescence and early adulthood.
Most of us don't put too much thought into how we arrived at our principles (or even what our principles actually are!). Parents, friends, and your experiences growing up certainly shaped your perspective, as well as the books you read or the media you consumed.
That said, here are a few ways that you can teach your kids a prinicpled worldview, both formally and informally:
- Role play scenarios
- Examine your own principles, and be ready to answer the question, "why?"
- Go through an ethics course with them
- Read books on the topic
- Have Debates
- Teach them about religions
- Follow Principles on the Human Optimization Project
Hopefully this was a helpful starter for why you should give some thought to morality and ethics and how you want to convey that to your kids, as well as a few ideas of where to get started.
For me, this will certainly be an area that I will be doing more research into over the coming years, and thus something where there will be more in-depth writing to come!