Children are the future of tomorrow. There is no question about it. The little laughing faces that fill the playgrounds of this country will be the leaders who make our laws one day. Despite this fact, school curriculums give alarmingly little concern to educating those same people about how their country works. In fact, only nine states in the U.S. require a full year of civics coursework, and 11 states do not require any civics lessons at all. If you are wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes giving children a civics education, consider these facts.
A Civics Education Is the Cornerstone to Democracy
In the U.S., voting and presidential elections play an enormous role in how the country operates. It is through these processes that governments make decisions. Nonetheless, many people dismiss the need to educate children about politics. Some consider the subject unimportant, and others think it is inappropriate. The truth is, learning about politics is one of the most important, not to mention patriotic, things a child can do in early learning. Not only does a civics education provide children with the tools they need to be productive members of society, but it also empowers them to participate their government. In a democracy, the freedom to do this is foundational.
Public Engagement Is at an All-Time Low
Even though the ability to participate in government is necessary for democracy to work, a 2016 national survey revealed that only 26 percent of Americans can identify all three branches of government. In addition, both voter participation and public trust in government has significantly decreased in recent years. Public engagement is about more than voting and understanding government though. It also about having the ability to talk about government with others. Civil discussions among people with different political views is increasingly uncommon. When people do not know how to think about or participate in their government because they lack a fundamental understanding of it, it can make conversations uncomfortable, and in the worst cases, hostile.
Benefits Go Beyond Voter Participation
In addition to helping young people understand their country, teaching children about politics also builds confidence and critical thinking skills. When children know why a law works the way it does, or how citizens vote for a president, it equips them with the ability to think clearly about the subject. As a result, they will be able to meaningfully contribute to conversations about the many aspects of politics that touch their daily lives.
As challenging as politics may be sometimes, it is a subject that impacts everyone’s lives. Start teaching children about civics now so you can better prepare them for tomorrow.