It doesn’t take much to be an active part of your community, and it can be an essential value for children to learn at an early age. Most high school curricula will teach some form of civic engagement, but it mainly revolves around politics. While understanding how the political process works, especially at the local level where so much is done that impacts your everyday life, there is more than that when it comes to being an engaged citizen.
Stay up to date on local news and politics – Knowing what is going on in your community is the first step to being an engaged citizen. You need to understand what’s happening around you to be able to make informed decisions. Find a topic that is relevant to your children and explain the process to them. Is your town considering adding a skate park or more athletic fields to expand its sports programs? What a perfect opportunity to explain the different steps it takes, from proposals to planning to community meetings within local government before any construction takes place.
Get out and vote – Often, there is more on the ballot than just the candidates running for office. There are propositions and budget proposals that the community needs to vote on. These are topics that shouldn’t be taboo for children. They may hear that their school wants to build a new gymnasium, playground, or high-tech computer lab. That all sounds great as a kid, but do they understand the impact that will have on your yearly school tax bill?
Learn about other cultures through your neighbors – What better way to get to know more about the world than through the people in your community? Churches and cultural centers are always holding events throughout the year to engage with the people in the community and raise awareness. Don’t forget about any museums or historic sites in your community.
Support local businesses – Do you know someone that has their own shop or restaurant? Find a time when you can support their business. Small businesses play an important role in our country and our communities. They provide products that many of the big box stores do not. Not only will they learn how supporting these businesses helps their community, but they also can take away knowledge from local entrepreneurs.
Volunteer in your community – A small act can go a long way, and when members of a community come together, a lot can get accomplished. You can find a volunteer opportunity for anything that interests you. Do you like animals? Local shelters are always in need of dog walkers. Are you into sports? “Big kids” can always be part of a local youth league, helping young children learn different games. It’s also a great way for students to start to network and make connections in their community which could come in handy when searching for that first job or applying for college.
When coming together as a community, we can accomplish a lot to make where we live a better place. Getting your kids active in their community at a young age will help build strong character skills for the rest of their life. Where are you going to start?