Tips for Teaching Kids About Civics + Project Ideas
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This post is sponsored in partnership with Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning.
One silver lining that has become evident throughout this pandemic is the deeper learning journey that many have been able to creatively take this year outside of what was once the educational norms. Although it may seem uncertain – there is so much potential in our new journey!
In addition to the new learning opportunities and free resources that have become available, a bigger learning opportunity has arisen for all ages – civics. This generation will be far more aware of civics in general than my generation growing up. Combined with technology, what an amazing opportunity our children have to use their voice for good!
With today’s generation having such a strong opportunity to use their voice, learning about civics is even more important! My children are getting a front row seat at brainstorming solutions …….. AND having the ability to make their solutions known. They can step out and make a difference. Giving them the power to understand both their rights and their obligations is your way of contributing to your child’s future.
But this isn’t limited just to our kids. WE have the same ability and responsibility to stand up and make a difference!
It’s our job to teach our kids the difference between civic duty (thinks like showing up for a jury summons, paying taxes, etc.) and civic responsibility (voting, volunteering, etc.) – even if that means learning it together. Instead of telling kids how things should run, ask them! Make them think about it and reason it out with them! Teach them to be independent thinkers!
Although this can feel like a very volatile time in our lives right now, there has never been a better opportunity to spend time as a family discovering and understanding what you believe and how you feel about various issues. Discussions revolving around current issues is exactly how teens like this group in Pittsburgh as reported by Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning, stepped up to make a difference about racial equality.
Topics for Teaching Kids about Civics:
With discussions of civics comes pros and cons which makes it a fantastic exploration for problem solving! This can begin as young as kindergarten! You do not have to wait until your kids are in high school to explore areas of civics!
Teaching children about civics not only gives them knowledge about their government but also the skills to uphold its responsibilities. It allows for the motivation and call of action to ensure checks and balances are in place. Below are several areas of opportunity for teaching kids about civics.
Political Parties and the Voting Process
As we all know, this can be a heated choice of topic for adults, but there is SO MUCH history to be unwrapped and taught here! From understanding forms of government to learning about equality and voter rights all the way down to how to run for president, this one topic alone is a great structured start!
With all of the back and forth emotions that politics can bring, it’s easy to check out mentally and keep it at an arm’s distance. But in doing so we aren’t teaching our kids anything other than politics is ridiculous – and I’m talking to myself here too! Politics may bring forth groans from those around you, especially during election years, but it serves an important purpose in our country. This only scratches the surface of civics.
Ideas – Run a mock election in your family – complete with debate! Create posters for your different parties and design your own ballot boxes!
Branches of Government & National Landmarks
Each branch of government plays a vital role in how our country is run. Can you remember them all? Add on a whole host of national landmarks and government institutions and you’ve got enough content to keep you busy for a whole year! Better yet – take a road trip to one of these organizations for in-person learning experiences!
Ideas- Take a virtual field trip to the Library of Congress, Ellis Island, the White House, the Smithsonian, NASA, and other important places in the USA. Tour your local state capitol building.
Teach your kids how to help others! So many organizations rely on volunteers to maximize their reach to those in need. This is a fantastic way to open your child up to caring for others in a compassionate way.
Ideas- Volunteer to walk dogs, learn to make a blanket or scarf to donate to homeless shelters, or simply go through their toys and clothes to give away – even with the pandemic there are creative ways to volunteer and help others!
Ah – the money talk! When my son first heard about paying taxes it bristled him a little to know his hard earned money wasn’t all his. But the more he learned about what taxes actually pay for, he began to understand the bigger picture. While this discussion may be reserved for some of your older kids, it’s an easy lesson to learn!
Ideas- Head to the dollar store with a few bucks and see taxes in action! Create a scavenger hunt of things that taxes pay for like roads, schools, street lights, etc.
Branches of Military
You can’t learn about civics and bypass learning about the six branches of the United States Armed Forces! This alone has plenty of opportunities to learn about!
Ideas- Write thank you notes or create care packages for service members. Learn songs from each branch of the military!
Activism & Historical Figures
Activism comes in many forms and spans across many topics (see below)! From writing letters to newspapers and government to strikes, boycotts, educating others, taking to social media…..there are a wide variety of ways one can use their voice to stand up for what they believe in.
Topic Ideas for Activism Projects:
Some Famous/Historical Activists to Study:
A. Philip Randolph
Be inspired by this group of teens who stood up to make a difference!
Thank you, Crystal, for taking the time to write this. I appreciate your thoughts and tips! 🙂
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