character_community

CITIZENSHIP

citizenship

what is it?

Citizenship means being a member of and supporting one’s community and country. Being a citizen doesn’t automatically make someone a good citizen, which is why teaching citizenship to children is so important. Citizenship is character education in action as most of the character traits we strive to instill in children, such as integrity, respect, responsibility, and self-management, are the basis of good citizenship. The goal of character education is to help children grow up to be good citizens with strong character. Good citizens identify their community and contribute to it by following rules, respecting others and their property, being helpful and considerate, and respecting and caring for the environment. 

why do we need it?

As important future members of society, children have a strong interest in their society’s development. Research shows that children who feel a sense of identity within a group and understand the relationship between self and others are the most well adjusted and successful in school. Feeling valued, accepted, respected and cared about by others—in short, a sense of belonging—establishes strong foundations for building meaningful relationships. Studies also show that some of the most important skills children need for success are social interaction, communication, collaboration and problem solving, all of which a sense of community can foster. To build strong supportive communities, we need to teach children to be good citizens and that they can make a difference.

what are the goals?

The goals of citizenship are to have children be able to: 

how do we teach it?

books we read

how to boost it at home

words we use

When we build good character in our children, we are building good citizens. Teaching citizenship to young children can be accomplished through simple daily activities, family projects and modeled behavior. As the trusted adults in children’s lives, we set the example of good citizenship at home, and in school. Parents can: 

Set a good example.

First, ask yourself whether you are the kind of citizen you want to be. Do you obey all laws, pay all taxes, and show respect for authority? Are you involved in your community? Practice good citizenship behaviors every day yourself to model it for your child: make sure you follow traffic laws, volunteer in the community, recycle at home and at work, and use appropriate trash receptacles when out in public. 

Explore your community.

Incorporate your community into your children’s lives through visits to parks, recreation areas, local stores and neighborhood visits. Your child will learn that the world is bigger than your home and that they have a connection to the outside world. Get involved with organizations and causes that you feel strongly about. Lead by example and bring your children along. Events as simple as story time at the library or arts and crafts classes can instill a sense of belonging in children. 

Be there for your neighbors.

Nothing is more important to teach your kids than kindness, and it can start right on your street. When a friend has a new baby, have your child help you cook the family a meal. Bring them along to deliver the meal and greet the newborn so they can see what kindness can do for someone. Take time to help a neighbor shovel their driveway, and have your children assist by shoveling with child-size tools. Assist with food, yard work, dog sitting or child care to help in case of illness or emergencies. Give some extra help to community members who are sick, or in nursing homes. 

Celebrate the good times.

Show your support for neighbors in good times as well as hard. Participate in or organize a neighborhood block party. Invite the neighbors when you are celebrating for your family—celebrating milestones with neighbors creates a close community. 

Get involved in school.

The classroom is one of your child’s first communities. When you have time, participate in school functions and support your child’s experience. Attending school parties and events shows children how important being part of a community really is. 

Organize or attend a community cleanup.

Teach children that we are responsible for our environment by always taking care of litter at home and in public. Take your child on a walk and carry a trash bag to pick up any trash you find. Take part in a community recycling program, or help out at an event aimed at important landmarks or walking trails. 

Teach your child about public service officials.

Visit your town’s fire hall or police station. Discuss the important jobs in our community that firemen and policemen do. Encourage pretend play by providing pretend mail that needs to be delivered, a police whistle or badge, or the hat for a firefighter. 

Maintain rules.

Discuss the reason for rules at home, school, and other places. Reinforce the ideas they learn at school, that rules help keep us safe. 

Vote.

Attend a public meeting with your child or take them with you to the voting booth. In simple terms, tell them why you are voting for your candidate. 

Read books about citizenship.

When reading a story with young children, take time to stop for questions and let the child be an active participant; retell the story after you’ve finished reading, and talk about stories with your children as you read them together. 

Practice inclusion.

Encourage skills related to diversity, inclusiveness, and fairness. We are living in an increasingly diverse world, and more and more, children are seeing children who are much different than they are. Diversity exists in various forms including race/ethnicity, culture, talent, ability, status, and learning styles. Teaching our children to accept differences may require that we use the power of the internet to learn about differences, that we seek out cultural activities that are out of our community and explore the strength and value in diversity. 

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FIRST CIRCLE LEARNING CENTERS

character education | march

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