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Teaching Your Children About Citizenship

by Tania Cowling | March 26th, 2014 | Elementary, Social

pledge afWe define a good citizen as a person who works with others to help make communities, schools, state, and country a safe place to live. And we try to teach our children to be responsible, kind, respectful, honest, and cooperative with others. We also teach them to demonstrate self-control and tolerance. Yet, children become confused when they hear and see how some individuals try to destroy this act of character with violence. We as parents must emphasize the heroic efforts that some people display when helping their fellow man when in danger or just through random acts of kindness. These people are showing good citizenship. So, how do we teach the children these traits?

Start with a basic appreciation of our country’s greatest symbol — the American flag. Spend some time at the library or on the Internet investigating the history of Old Glory. What does the flag signify? How did it evolve to its present day design? What individual sacrifices were made during the history of the flag? What is the proper way to display and handle this flag? Our flag is a symbol of freedom and citizenship and by helping your child understand its evolution you will intensify their respect for this symbol. Take out the craft materials and make a replica of our flag together. Display it in your home.

People helping people is a simple way to exemplify the trait of citizenship. Whether you are collecting clothing and food for others in need or helping to keep your local park clean of litter, you are being a good citizen. And when a community has endured a horrible event — a tornado, hurricane, a massive shooting — complete strangers come together to aid in financial, medical, and spiritual assistance to help others. Discuss with your children some of the heroic stories you have heard. And, if you have made personal donations for a cause, review this with your family.

And what about freedom? Our country is built upon values like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Your children have probably never known a life different from the one they live in today. A good citizen respects the rights and freedoms of all individuals. Take time to discuss these freedoms with your children at home. Talk about how their life would be without these rights. Emphasize the role that citizens (and very important people in history) have played to permit us to enjoy these freedoms.

Spend some time with the kids singing God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner. Do your kids know all the words? How about the Pledge of Allegiance? We are all so lucky and privileged to live in this country. Make sure you conduct this citizenship lesson with your family – it’s part of our parenting duties.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

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