Government is an extremely important subject for all homeschoolers to study. Today, Michelle Habrych, contributor to I Choose Joy! shares her Top Tips for Teaching American Government.
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The Top Tips for Teaching American Government
Teaching American government does not have to be difficult. Over the past decade of homeschooling, I have taken the time to teach my children more than once about the government of our country. Each time, I did it at their level of understanding. Let me share with you some favorite resources for instructing about all things related to government.
Lapbooks are a great way for younger students to get involved in learning about something that may be hard to understand. It’s always easier if it’s an election year, so you could plan it around that. This January we inaugurated a new president, so teaching about the way our government works will be practical for young students.
Join With Friends
Get together with a friend. Years ago my friend and I decided our older elementary students should learn about government, so we went through it together. We used the branches of the government posters from Rainbow Resource, along with a copy of the U.S. Constitution. We listed to Schoolhouse Rock songs such as “We the People,” “I’m Just a Bill,” and “Three Ring Circus.” We played a free printable game I found online to reinforce what they had learned. You can get a free pocket U.S. Constitution here. Other resources for the elementary years I would recommend include episodes of Liberty’s Kids and books by Jean Fritz (such as Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution and Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?).
Combine with History
Three years ago, as my son was starting eighth grade, another friend (Rita) and I decided to combine our love for history and teach a high school-level class together at our homeschool group using Notgrass’ Exploring Government as the base text. We liked it because of its Biblical worldview and additional primary documents compilation book. We are teaching the class again this year due to the number of students in our group needing this for their high school credits. Rita and I use the text as a starting point for conversations about how the government works in our everyday world. We help the students find connections between the nightly news and the things we are learning in class.
A More Perfect Union
Rita introduced me to a fabulous resource that I think should be integral to teaching high school government: A More Perfect Union, a movie produced by Brigham Young University in 1989. It’s very well done and brings the Constitutional Convention to life for the students. Additionally, we use YouTube videos from Crash Course and Hip Hughes History to help students to hear a different explanation on the lessons, from “Article I of the Constitution for Dummies” to “Types of Bureaucracies.” Next semester Rita will be leading the students through a mock trial in class, the purpose of which will be to have them learn the roles in a court case and how it relates to the U.S. Constitution. Our final exam in the class is to have the students take the 100-question test from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.
Don’t discount those Schoolhouse Rock songs once the students reach high school. We use them with our class to help the auditory learners memorize the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, as well as to understand the branches of the government and how a bill becomes a law. There aren’t many better ways, which is why they are still popular today!
Michelle Habrych has enjoyed teaching about government to homeschool students of all ages and encourages you to do the same. She believes it is something to be explored in each of the stages of learning: elementary, middle school, and high school.