So how do we go about teaching children to be good citizens? Good citizens support their family, country and community.
In addition to their privileges in the Bill of Rights, a citizen has an obligation to be informed, law abiding and uphold basic democratic principles such as tolerance and civic responsibility.
When kids vote, recycle, conserve resources and take good care of themselves and others, they are being good citizens. Participating in community activities and projects is another measure of a truly good citizen.
In response to concerns about children’s ethical development, many states have adopted character education programs.
Educators are obligated to teach students the history of our democracy on a level children can comprehend. Helping students explore citizenship and connecting it to their lives are the keys to true understanding.
Hearing accounts of people who fought for and founded the United States will increase their awareness. Children need to be taught that citizens of the United States are not free by accident, but because individuals made great sacrifices to protect their rights.
Learning the history of our symbols such as our flag, Liberty Bell and Statue of Liberty will contribute to their insight.
Since our flag embodies our values and the unity of our country, respect for it needs to be taught and maintained. Reasons behind certain holiday celebrations such as Fourth of July, President’s Day and Veteran’s Day could be addressed, as well.
QUESTIONS: What are some specific suggestions to help children develop citizenship at home or in the classroom?
ANSWER: Here are 20 different ways to get started.
1. Hold a discussion on what citizenship means — including rights and responsibilities of citizens.
2. Define a good citizen and have your children share personal stories about when they exhibited citizenship. For example: