Can You Teach Civics & Government?
(plus $100 gift certificate to ALL of you)
May 30, 2018
Hey Mama,

It's almost June . . . and then on to July . . . can you believe it? Summer always seems to fly by (even though it's hardly started), and with summer comes BBQs, picnics, fireworks, and 4 th of July! I love hearing phrases like “one nation under God” and “In God we trust” this time of year. It reminds me that our government and our country is not run by men (as much as they might think it is) but by God. God is in control. He's the one that guided our Founding Fathers to add those phrases to important documents . . . to keep Him first in our lives and our government.

That's why it's so important that we teach a Biblical philosophy of government and civics to our children. Need inspiration on how to do that? See what the experts have to say from The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine:



And remember, Mama. . .

Public schools have little to offer families who want to pass their faith on to their children. Their teaching of godless philosophies is a threat to your children's faith and to your family. Plus, the Lord gave us the responsibility of teaching our children:

“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Take a moment to assess the "why" behind what you do all day long parenting and homeschooling. 

You have a natural, God-given drive to love your children with everything you've got. Nothing can break that chain, and nothing/no one better even try. . . 

You have a strong conviction to teach your children who the Lord of lords is. You want to introduce them to their Savior. You desire to spend eternity with them, even if it means some hard things will happen between the two of you during this life. You're committed. You're dedicated, come what may.

God is in it. He's given you SO MUCH GRACE. So many blessings. So much undeserved grace, and you know it! You have seen His hand over and over again. You desire to give something back and to be the mouthpiece God uses in the lives of your children. You sincerely wish to be used by Him to shape these children into ones who will love and seek after Him all their days. A legacy of love. . .

No one but you (and your husband) truly knows these children. When you look into their eyes, you see your own purpose fulfilling itself day by day. You know their hearts and you take *so very seriously* your role to whole-hardheartedly embrace this calling ... this path God Himself has set you on to teach them at home.

No one can do this incredible work in the lives of THESE EXACT, PARTICULAR CHILDREN who have been set before you--just you. God put this together. He ordained it long, long before you were born. And you're dead set to walk this journey with all the joy, tears, grief, excitement, blessings, surprises, and whatever else it brings. Because you know Whose hand is on your head today, tomorrow, and for all of your life.

Take joy, Mama, in your King. He wins! You win!

You are loved, dearly. It's all good; it's all under control, because He is on the throne. Just walk.

-gena

P.S. There are some specific suggestions for how to teach your children with Godly principles in mind in our latest Supplement to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Just click through to read it free today and get lots of ideas and encouragement!
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Why Teach Civics

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” – Thomas Jefferson

After speaking at a homeschooling conference in Virginia, Joe and I visited Historic Williamsburg. As a high school student, I remember the huge, bustling Visitor’s Center bursting at the seams with people and energy. But on this day it was a ghost town. 

Joe asked a docent where all the people were. Her answer still haunts me: “Our numbers have been down drastically since our public schools quit teaching American history.”

A recent report by The Nations Report Card (https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/) confirms that only twelve percent of American high school seniors are proficient in United States history; and only twenty-four percent, in civics.

That truth is scary. We have to know what our rights are, or we will lose them. 

“We the people … do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.” These first words of our Constitution signify that our government, which is by the people, derives its power from the people—power flows from the bottom up, not from the top down.

The Constitution is not a document where an all-powerful government grants rights and privileges to its citizens. It’s the other way around. The citizens of the United States grant certain authorities and powers to the government. “We the people” should be the actors, the initiators, in this exchange.

“We the people” have grown quite ignorant of how and why government works. And in our ignorance and passivity, we have surrendered far too many rights and freedoms to our government.

Why teach civics? If we want our freedoms to survive, we have no choice but to teach the Constitution and the foundations of our government to our children. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
  
Receive two FREE video and printable lessons from Constitutional Literacy lessons from Michael Farris and Apologia by clicking here.
Danika Cooley
I started studying civics and government with my kids when they were little—in first and second grade. That might sound a little funny. After all, civics and government are pretty complicated subjects, right?

Civics, the study of what we owe as citizens, and government, the system by which a country or state is managed, all rest on ideas and principles. It's popular now to tell young people that a certain form of government doesn't work only because it has not been applied in the correct way. This idea that systems just need to be tweaked before we reach utopia ignores the fact that governments are based on people, and people either serve God and love each other—or they don't.

To study civics and government in elementary school, I took my kids through history using literature. We learned about the ancient governments of Biblical nations. We read about the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire, and medieval feudalism. We studied native animistic cultures and learned about the rise of communism. We read about Native Americans and the thirteen colonies. My boys learned how America became a nation and the way we struggled to maintain unity over two centuries of nationhood.

Not only did we read about the history of nations and their rulers, we read stories that allowed my children to consider what it was like to live as an average citizen in nations throughout history. They were able to feel the consequences of idolatrous ancient Egypt, the despair of feudalism, and the terror of both fascism and communism.

Over the years, we've had many productive and thought-provoking conversations about the ideas and principles behind different forms of government. We've talked about what various governments require of their citizens and what God requires of us in the Bible.

Now that our kids are in high school, we watch a daily student news program, and we study source documents from governments, like the U.S. Constitution. Our boys are learning to become involved citizens while fully understanding the weight of what that means. Many years of reading novels and historical narratives have set our kids up to think critically about their studies in government, civics, and economics (which I think should be fully expected as a part of government studies).

Our boys know that all government is an expression of worship—who we worship determines the way we establish our political structure. They know, too, that there are clear mandates in Scripture about how we are to behave as both citizens of our country and as citizens of eternity.

I'm so glad we took a history and literature-based approach to our homeschool in the early years. I believe it has benefited our kids in many ways, not the least of which is in their understanding of government and civics.

Download 144 FREE Fruit of the Spirit Bible Memory Verse Cards to work on with your kids over the summer!

Danika Cooley is an author and homeschool mother of four. Her passion is equipping parents to teach Scripture and Christian history to their families. You can learn more about Danika's popular  Bible Road Trip™  curriculum  and teen historical novel  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther  at  Thinking Kids .

You'll find hundreds of  subscriber gifts  there, too!
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Kerry Tittle
I am adamant that Civics and Government are more important today than ever. There needs to be more than learning a few dates and studying the three branches of government for a student to get a proper understanding.

Sadly, I learned this way too late in my homeschool career. I had a tunnel vision of life that consisted of my church and my homeschool. My kids didn’t understand a sense of community until the last few years. I may get some e-mails on this, but if we are to be a light in a dark world, we need to be out there and understanding the world around us. 

Here are a few things I have incorporated over the last few years that have grown my children in this area:

Look for ways for your family to serve together in the community. This has been life changing for me, and I’ve learned to love the people in my community! We are learning to program weather radios for events around the state. There are always “clean up” days for various parks, cemeteries, or other public places. This will teach your children to get out of their comfort zone, understand community, and (ahem) also help break the stigma of the “unsocialized homeschooler.”

Meet your district’s senators, representatives, and other local officials. We have done this and have made dear friends in the process. We know better how to pray for them.

If possible, go and visit your state capitol. We have found that they really do enjoy the visitors, and they are encouraged to see young people take an active interest in government. My daughter was surprised and encouraged to see how much of a Christian worldview was present within the walls of our state capitol.

Here are some resources that have helped us:

Curriculum: We are very fortunate to have good Christian Government curriculum available for our students. You probably should be wary of choosing a secular curriculum because the worldviews are very different.

Activities and Extra Resources: If TeenPact comes to your capitol, it is worth every penny. My daughter left on day one knowing very little and returned home at the end of the week with an amazing understanding of Government and its processes, how to engage in the culture, and how to defend the Christian faith. She didn’t just read about it . . . she lived it. Another favorite for us is the Constitutional Literacy course that gives a clear understanding of the Constitution. This is published by Home School Legal Defense Association.

Daily News: This was hard for me at first. There is so much corruption, and at times if it was just too inappropriate, so I would turn it off. This type of corruption could give an opportunity to look at Proverbs together. It also keeps your children up on current events.

I realize that Government and Civics are usually just a one-time course, but I would highly encourage you to integrate them into your daily life. If we are planning to raise world changers, it will take more than two semesters! We need to either train them to be leaders or train them to look for able men to vote for.

“Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” Exodus 18:21

Kerry Tittle is a mother of nine children and a 20-year homeschool veteran. She was the owner of ReformationKidz with her husband Rob until a tornado destroyed their home and business in 2014, taking the lives of Rob and two of their daughters, Tori and Rebekah. Kerry is the founder of  Refined Family , which is created to encourage others to find hope in the gospel in the midst of trials.
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When it comes to teaching civics and government, my personal homeschool policy is to start teaching it in the first grade! I’m not talking about a droning lecture but implementing unforgettable-memory-making lessons. Our kiddos and co-op looked forward to our mini unit studies year after year, and each child grew in their ability to understand and care about civics and government. 

Box City: Every summer, our co-op collected refrigerator boxes, a pile of craft supplies and a case of packaging tape. Each student would get their own box to create a business in our Box City Township. The unit study lasted one week for a couple of hours each day. Kids made the rules and a money system. Creativity and excitement filled the air as cardboard, markers, fabric, paint, tape, glue, and glitter (Yes, I said the “G” word: glitter) swirled to set the stage for the emerging lessons. Within a week’s time, our little town experienced a recession, prosperity for some, and poverty for others. Students were encouraged to seek solutions. Even though the young students didn’t know the proper economic terms, their ideas unfolded. In our tiny microcosm of the world, the students entertained ideas of socialism, communism, and a free-market system, or some variation of all the economic ideologies. They discussed how much government should be involved in their little town. When ants destroyed one student’s box because he had left a peanut butter sandwich in his box, the kids discussed the role of the church in social issues. We covered more civics and government lessons in one week than most people get in a lifetime.

Election Day Activities: Every four years, we capitalized on an opportunity to participate in the presidential election. Of course, we researched and talked about all the propositions and issues on the ballot. When election day came, our co-op created a voting booth out of a refrigerator box, and the students used the blank sample ballot to cast their votes. Election Day was a homeschool holiday so students could vote and color in a map showing which presidential candidate won which state and tally the electoral votes. Of course, we sang the Electoral College Song by Schoolhouse Rock! 

Visit the State Capitol: We visited our state capitol every other year. Why? I mean, if you have been there once, you have been there! Here’s why: I wanted my kiddos to feel super comfortable walking into their state capitol like they were visiting a relative or friend. The trip reinforced that the government serves the people and not the other way around. Plus, each tour guide offered a different perspective, and each visit helped spur on additional conversation. 

Dear President: Some of my most cherished homeschool memories are watching my kids and my co-op kiddos stand with pride reading their written letter to the president and eventually sending the letter to the president expressing their thoughts about what they like about America and what they would like changed. It gave their young political palates a taste for what it means to be an American citizen. 

Through the power of play, visiting government offices, writing to the president, and talking about what they learned, young kids can discover the concepts of civics and government. No ho-hum lecture needed! 

You can find  Beth Mora  jogging while  singing off-key  near her home in Washington. She is the creator and teacher-on-camera for  Here to Help Learning’s h omeschool writing program for grades 1-6. She is a welcomed  speaker  at homeschool conferences and women’s events. She loves blogging at  Home to Homeand Peak Performance, HTHL’s blogs for moms and homeschool businesses. Every week, she serves up HTHL's  Writing Tip of the Week for those who are serious about teaching their kiddos how to write. Everything she does, whether laughable or heart gripping, is done to honor One, without apology. God’s grace is the salve that has healed her own life, and God’s grace is what she offers liberally to others.
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Could you use some tools to help you teach civics? How about a course on the US Constitution written by a judge? If you’re a member of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, don’t miss these courses: 

  • Constitution and Bill of Rights: The Honorable Kevin Mark Smith, District Court Judge of Sedgwick County, Kansas, and an allied attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom in Wichita, Kansas, teaches the Constitution and Bill of Rights course on SchoolhouseTeachers.com to help your student understand what our Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This course includes prompts for independent study, term paper assignments, and exams, covering topics such as executive orders and regulations, taxes, and where our rights come from. 
  • American Government: Michelle Subbert is the author of an 18-week course that traces the development of the nation’s federal government from its creation to the present day. The roles of state and local government as well as that of citizens are explored. The class includes daily lessons and assignments as well as quizzes and a semester research project.
  • Elections and the US Presidency: This completely interactive course by Beth Napoli gives students a chance to learn how and why the US electoral process works and what the job of the President of the United States is through fun online projects and tools.

All of our nearly 400 courses on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, along with all our parenting, scheduling, and educating resources, are available to your family with your membership. If you haven’t yet joined SchoolhouseTeachers.com, come give us a try during our June special and lock in a low monthly or yearly rate! If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us, let us know. You can email me at bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com. We look forward to serving you and your family! 

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Contest Corner  
For the month of May


Recently, we had the opportunity to use The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective, by Gina Ferguson. ( . . .) The student text of The Master and His Apprentices contains 19 chapters on art throughout history, plus an appendix with additional information. Every page has at least one full color reproduction or image related to the topic; most pages have several color images! I was blown away by the quality of the graphics and appropriateness of each image chosen.

The introduction to this text explains the author's philosophy of God as the Master and all other artists as apprentices. Right away you can see this will definitely be a text written from a Christian perspective. The author explains how timelines will be used throughout the book to allow the student to relate various artistic periods to historical events and to the Bible. The book was written after the author experienced the need for a more family-friendly approach to art history, where nude works of art are excluded, making the text safe to use in family lessons. Still, the book does not suffer in its ability to provide proper high school level art history instruction.

Even with the Teacher Guide, the author states this text is not intended as a comprehensive art history resource, but as an introduction. She encourages students to research further their favorite artists and periods. Even as an introduction, The Master and His Apprentices covers a good deal of art history in the 19 chapters of the book:

  • Ancient Cultures, including Ancient Near East, Egyptian, and Aegean
  • Classical Antiquity, including Early Greek, Etruscan, and Roman
  • Middle Ages, including Early Christian and Byzantine, Medieval and Islamic, Romanesque, and Gothic
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque to today
  • Non-Western Art

The text is organized chronologically and includes a good deal of history from the time frame and geographic location being discussed. One might even say it is a history text written from an artistic point of view. Each major era includes a timeline that compares the major Biblical events with the comparative world and art events. Then, a complete timeline for all eras is included in the appendix. Major works of art have headings that list the type of work and the estimated, or known, date of completion. Nearly all types of art are covered in this art history text: architecture, sculpture, pottery, painting, mosaics, engravings, and illuminations. ( Read the rest of the review.)

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TO ENTER: Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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