The kids who are successful in school are those who remain curious even after the last bell rings, who notice the world around them, and who make connections among subjects and ideas. There are millions of ways to keep minds of all ages active and engaged outside the classroom.
The following article is part of a Noodle series about how to integrate learning into everyday life in order to instill a love of knowledge in your kids.
The Civics Edition
The word “civics” probably calls to mind a dry high school class you’d rather doodle through, but the subject is about understanding one’s role as an American citizen. The following activities are inspiring ways to learn about fairness and equality, no lecture required.
Read the newspaper.
Beyond using the newspaper to stay informed about current events, you can creatively rely on it to teach your child about being a responsible citizen. Teach your children about the different sections of the paper, and have your children find names that they recognize in each. Cut and paste words from your print newspaper to make stories or signs, or cut out photos and re-caption them. Each day, find a story that piques your child’s curiosity.
Explore Federal holidays.
Federal holidays can teach a lot about important events in our country’s history. Do a little digging to find out why we get certain days off from school and work. These articles are a great place to start:
Be a good citizen.
Being a good citizen means demonstrating respect toward others, showing good sportsmanship, and taking responsibility for actions. Talk with your child about rules — whether they apply to your home, school, or playground — and how they help kids be good citizens. What would it be like if kids didn’t follow rules? Have your child brainstorm other ideas about how to be a good citizen.
Research different forms of government.
How would your household run if everyone got to vote? What if just one person were in charge? What if that one person didn’t even live in the house? Practice voting on questions as a family: What should we have for dinner? What movie should we watch? Your kids will be thrilled to have a say, and they will learn that they can make a difference in the outcome of a decision.
If you need more guidance when it comes to teaching your child about voting, check out Teaching Your Teen About The Elections.
Talk about rights versus privileges.
What should every human being be allowed? What, on the other hand, is a luxury? You can extend these principles to household rules — what is fair for each kid in the family? Is it different than what is fair for parents? Pass household “laws” together, and write them on a poster board.
Notice the mottos, faces, and symbols on each, and then do some research together. Small children can make coin-rubbings by coloring paper over different coins and watching the designs appear. Older children may enjoy collecting coins, including all the state quarters. Find out whose face is on each and why those individuals are important.
Volunteer in your community.
Find volunteer opportunities here, or have your child pick an organization that she cares about and wants to help. Your child will quickly learn the value of giving back.
Check out online resources.
Take a look at Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government for Kids, a site featuring Benjamin Franklin. Geared toward students of all ages, it also includes plenty of games and activities for curious young minds. Older kids may also enjoy the games at iCivics, a site created by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Want more ideas about how to cultivate a love of learning in your child? Check out the other parts of this series: