This Friday is Flag Day in the US. (** Correction: it's on Saturday, sorry!) Originally I planned this week's theme to be "flags" and see what fun activities and crafts we could come up with together. But then I realized it might be a bit too limited. (Although I am going to be doing a flag activity later this week with Mr. A.) I let my thoughts drift toward other areas possibly related to Flag Day and eventually decided on the theme: Good Citizens. It's important to me to teach my son how to be a good citizen in any community in which he lives. I firmly believe it is the duty of parents and other primary caregivers to teach children how to be active and helpful members of society--it is not the duty of schools, churches, or media. While those sources can provide secondary support and reinforcement, it is ultimately a responsibility of the family.
So how do we teach our children to be good citizens? Well, a suggestion might be to start with a short list of qualities you feel are essential in a good citizen. I found a fairly comprehensive list at Education World: Honesty, Compassion, Respect, Responsibility, and Courage. They also share some suggestions for classroom use that I think can be used at home too such as making rules together, telling stories about these qualities, and role-playing. Putting repeated emphasis on these characteristics is going to reinforce the importance of them in your child's mind.
Another route is to introduce your child to politics. For all of you in the US, it is a perfect year to start discussions about how our political system functions. Describe the duties of the president and the election process. Let them vote with you, or at least see you voting. I have to say that my mom gave me a great foundation here. She's not the type to go out campaigning, but she showed me with actions how the voting process works, and how important my vote is. Along the same lines, with older children you can start to open up conversations about hot political topics like war, taxes, immigration, etc. Of course you don't need to throw every detail at them, but let them know some of the main elements of the debates and why they are significant. Then ask them what they would change if they were president.
If the politics is a bit over your child's head, try some crafts and activities about your national symbols (as in the FLAG). Or go to your library and check out some children's books about historical heroes in your country. The most important thing is to let your child see that his/her voice and actions are vital to the success of the community.
I'd really like to hear some more detailed thoughts in this area. I tried to keep it broad so you can share specifics of what you do with your kids. Tell us what qualities you think are essential to a good citizen. Share dinner table discussions you have had. List great books you found at the library. Show pictures of fun crafts you have done. Anything! We love to hear you are out there.