Teaching Citizenship in the Early Childhood Setting

Rebecca White  |  3/16/2005 1:15:21 AM

Image of Cindy the Citizen Crab

For young children, being a citizen means trying to:

  • Cooperate.
  • Obey rules.
  • Respect people in charge.
  • Not litter.

Being a good citizen is something adults may do every day. Adults might practice good citizenship by: obeying traffic laws, paying taxes, helping a neighbor, volunteering or recycling. Teachers are an important influence on young children. The children in your class will develop good citizenship habits by following your good citizenship practices.

Infants

You can introduce infants to citizenship by making them a member of the community. Taking infants on neighborhood walks or to the park will expose them to a world much larger than your classroom. These early experiences in the community will be important in their later lives. A child who feels connected to the outside world through exposure to it will want to be an active member of the outside world.

Toddlers

Begin teaching toddlers connections between the members of the community and their daily life. You can do this by explaining a little bit about various things you see on outings in the neighborhood. When you see the police car drive by, explain that the police officer helps keep us safe. Toddlers may not understand all that you explain to them but the more you talk about the community, the more they will understand, and the more they will want to be members of the community.

Preschool

Before children can be citizens of the community, they must be citizens in the classroom. Children who learn to get along with their classmates will be able to learn to get along in their community.One way to help preschool children become good citizens is by teaching them not to litter. You can also help your children learn to keep the neighborhood, city or town clean by going on litter walks to pick up trash.

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