Having second graders learn about the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights can be tricky, teacher Pam Hofmeier says.
Second graders do not understand many concepts about government. They don’t understand concepts like representation , right to assemble, and have no idea what words like “redress of grievances” means.
What they do understand is rules. They understand the rules posted on the wall of their classroom at Explorer Elementary School in Goddard, Kansas.The rules are clear: Follow directions quickly. Raise your hand for permission to speak or leave your seat. Make smart choices.
“We have something like a constitution in our room, don’t we?” Hofmeier said during a recent lesson. “They’re the rules we have to follow. … The Constitution is a set of grown-up, adult rules we have for our , a statute approved by Kansas lawmakers last year.
A federal law passed as part of an appropriations bill a decade ago mandates the teaching of the Constitution that day in all schools that receive federal funds. So Kansas schools are busily preparing for Constitution Day.
Celebrate Freedom Week initially was proposed by Kansas lawmakers to require that schools devote the third week in September each year to teaching kindergarten through eighth-grade students about the country’s founding. But the bill was amended to give schools the option of teaching those topics during any week of the school year.
“We always prefer to give districts flexibility in when they do these things,” said Don Gifford, educational program consultant for history, government and social studies for the Kansas Department of Education.
“September isn’t always the best time to do this kind of thing, because kids are just getting settled into a classroom, and it requires some planning,” he said.
Lessons about the U.S. Constitution, however, are required by federal law. The law establishing Constitution Day was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment to an omnibus spending bill.