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9/17/2009 10:32:13 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
September 20009--Civics for Preschool thru Middle School
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Dear Friends,

Civics is the branch of political science that deals with duties and
rights of citizenship; academically, it often includes government
studies, so students can learn how our political and economic systems
are supposed to work and what their rights and responsibilities are as
citizens.

Some of you live in states whose home education statutes specifically
require studies of civics and/or government, and you wonder what
resources you could use; others may simply be looking for a starting
point to educate your children (or possibly yourselves) in the basics
of state, local, and federal government. In his article, "Teaching
Government Right," http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6919 Dr. Arthur
Robinson comments, "The last and best hope for the long-term
preservation of American freedom and the remarkable legacy of the
constitutional republic created by our founding fathers is in the
education of young Americans to think and learn for themselves the
truth about government as it ought to be."

Inge Cannon of EdPlus.com http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6920
reminds us that the prophet Isaiah described the three-branch
structure of government long before Christ was born: "For the Lord is
our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will
save us" Isaiah 33:22 (KJV). (Read Inge's article
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6921 about studying academic
subjects from a biblical worldview.) The Bible was the standard for
civil law http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6922 from the Mayflower
Compact through the constitutions of all 50 states.

Maybe you had--as I did--a marginal education in civics and
government; I don't recall ever being exposed to any original
documents, or more than a cursory introduction to how our government's
political or economic systems should function. So where do you begin?


Resources

For primary students, it is usually most effective to introduce
government in the context of early American history, using
biographies, autobiographies, and original documents such as the
Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6923 , examining these documents in
a context of biblical principles or foundational references. As your
students understand the colonists' grievances and their struggle to
obtain liberty, they can more rationally observe the current
operations of our governmental system.

By reading and discussing the Declaration of Independence first,
students can gain an understanding of why the founding fathers chose
to risk their lives by defying the king and army of Great Britain. In
For You They Signed http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6924 Marilyn
Boyer chronicles the lives and character of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence and offers a year's worth of family
devotional character studies; the companion Family Activity Guide
includes coloring pages to include even young ones in this family
study.

If you have several children, you may wish to cover as much of civics
in a multi-level http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6925 approach as
possible, teaching to the level of your oldest student and modifying
assignments for the others; they will get off the "mental bus" at
their own "mental bus stop."

A study of the history of various patriotic holidays such as
Independence Day http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6927 and
Constitution Day http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6928 can be a fun
way to kick off your studies!

I Love America, Volumes 1 and 2,
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6929 written and illustrated by
Julianne S. Kimber, is a hands-on curriculum for ages 4-7 and is
suitable for home or group/co-op use.
The Learning Parent site features lots of biographies and other
governmental studies, including Noah Webster's advice to the Young,
And Moral Catechism http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6930 and
Take Your Hat Off When the Flag Goes By
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6931 a child's musical introduction
to the Constitution, geared for ages 3-8.

Amanda Bennett's government unit study
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6932 is divided into upper and lower
levels beginning at about grade 4, but could be modified for a younger
student.
The Teaching Home e-newsletter offers several online issues packed
with resources, links, and teaching tips--their archived Constitution
Week edition http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6933 is an
informational start.
The Land of Fair Play (ChristianLibertyPress.com),
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6934 designed for middle school and
up, was just updated in 2008. Although it is designed for 8th grade
and above, it could be used in a read-aloud-and-discuss setting for
upper elementary, depending on the student's ability/interest.

The KONOS Unit Study Guide, Volume II
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6935 (green book) has an entire unit
on the character trait of wisdom, and two of the four sub-units are on
government and presidents/electoral process--with more than six pages
of suggested resource titles selected for K-8th grades. A few of the
most highly recommended include The Story of the Power of Congress by
R. Conrad Stern, The Constitution by Warren Coleman, and American
Freedom and the Bill of Rights by William Wise.

By middle school, you might consider an introduction to The Federalist
Papers (originally titled The Federalist)
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6936 , a series of
essays-turned-newspaper-editorials by Hamilton, Jay, and Madison that
remain to this day a primary source of interpretation of our
constitution.

The Library of Congress website http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6937
offers lesson plans and themed activities designed specifically for
younger students, utilizing primary documents.

The books in the Uncle Eric series by Richard Maybury are written from
a fictional uncle to his inquisitive nephew and include titles such
as:
Whatever Happened to Justice?
Are You Liberal? Conservative? or Confused?
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?(economics)

The WallBuilders site http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6938 and
Vision Forum to http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6939 have some
videos and tapes on government that give an interesting introduction
or springboard for further study.

Alpha Omega's The U.S. Government
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6940 supplemental history resource
book gives your children a close-up look at the inner workings of our
government in action, including the Constitution, the justice system,
the Congress, the elective process, military, and more. They also
offer a Switched-On Schoolhouse computer-based study on state
government and history for each state.

Some state organizations http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6941 offer
resources relevant to their own state's government and history.


Hands-on experience

In an interview http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6943 on teaching
citizenship to children, constitutional lawyer Michael Farris, HSLDA
chairman and general counsel, suggests, "Take your children on field
trips to government offices so that they can see first-hand what
functions each level of government performs.

Visit court trials at different levels. Watch your city council in
operation. Visit your state legislature. And if possible, watch
Congress in action. The practical lessons your children will receive
from such excursions will far outweigh any textbook
instruction--especially if you follow it up with thoughtful
discussion.

The more our children know about their government, the more they will
be able to change the way our government operates, to make it more
efficient, and to hold their representatives responsible for their
actions."


Grateful for liberty,
Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years coordinator


"You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve
your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it." --John Quincy
Adams

--Darlene Stoker and B. Elaine Clegg, Our Heritage of Freedom (SC
Enterprises, 1998), 84; Quoted in Marilyn Boyer, For You They Signed
(The Learning Parent, Rustburg, VA, 2009), xvii

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Teaching Citizenship to Children

Check out the HSLDA Homeschool Heartbeat radio broadcast archives
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6944 for topics related to civics
studies for younger (and older) students, including:

"Principles of Government" --Michael Farris
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6945

"A Lesson in Civics" --Dr. Stephen King
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6946

"Teaching Citizenship to Children" --Michael Farris
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6947

And visit http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6948 to learn more about
how a constitutional amendment is proposed and passed.
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