Citizenship starts at home

It’s been a few years since I’ve been in school (I won’t say how many), but I don’t remember a lot emphasis on civics education in school. We said the “Declaration of Independence” every morning in grade school, but that stopped when we got older. In Social Studies and History, we learned about our country’s founding, but we always rushed through more recent history and current events.

Today, there is a “Participation in a Democracy” class in public schools. Kids Voting Hawaii (http://www.kidsvotinghawaii.org/) helps students become engaged voters. But citizenship starts at home.

What can we do at home to teach our future legislators, mayors, and governors?

* Read the newspaper or watch TV news with your children. Then discuss what is happening in the world and in our local communities. Ask them how it affects us personally.

* Play a “Mayor for the Day” game. Tell them what you would do and why, then ask your children what they would do. You’ll find out what they think is important – and what their school teaches them to think is important.

* Volunteer as a family. Support a charity or community cause as a family – whether it’s participating in a walk or run, staffing a booth, donating spare change, or serving food.

* Be a good role model by voting. It’s hard to encourage someone to vote if we don’t. So vote.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

What else can we do to teach our children about being good citizens?

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