As the United States of America moves through the process of electing our next President, there is an opportunity for children to learn more than what they will see in the political ads and sound bites. The 2016 election cycle will undoubtedly be discussed in political science classes for years to come. Our children are living though history in the making, and it would be great if they had some understanding of what is going on around them.
One source of information about how our government works is the U.S. government itself. Almost 20 years ago, President Bill Clinton issued a memo on “Expanding Access to Internet-based Educational Resources for Children, Teachers, and Parents.” He directed all departments and agencies of the federal government to make high-quality educational content available on line in a way that was user friendly and fun for kids. The full content of the memo can be found at http://clinton2.nara.gov/WH/New/NetDay/memorandum.html
Much of this kid-friendly content can be accessed through a single website called “Kids.gov.” Kids.gov is the official children’s portal to the U.S. government. Information is targeted to four different audiences: children in grades K-5 or 6-8, parents and educators. Of course, you can select the material that best matches the learning level of your child or student(s). The information, games, posters and videos, etc. are also organized by topics that include art and music, math, reading and writing, exercise and eating healthy, science, on-line safety and more.
Right now, I would especially like to draw attention to material under the heading of “Government.” https://kids.usa.gov/government/index.shtml
There you will find information about the three branches of the federal government, how presidents get elected, and even the National Conventions. There are lesson plans for more formal instruction, but parents might choose to use the colorful posters to walk their child step-by-step through the process that is playing out before our very eyes. Please take full advantage of this teachable moment to help your child better understand this great country of ours. One day they will become adult citizens who will have the right to choose future presidents and legislators. Let’s start getting them ready!