American government is a standard core social studies course that homeschoolers should expect to include on their student’s high school transcript. U.S. government or political science studies do not have to be limited to readings and videos. This subject lends itself well to hands on community activities that help build a lifelong interest in the community involvement and citizenship. Research finds that adults who had been homeschooled are more likely to participate in their communities as volunteers and are more likely to vote. Getting involved in active community participation while homeschooling high school can build a lifelong awareness of the importance of citizenship.
If you wish to add a hands on interactive study in citizenship as part of your student’s American government course consider these options:
Attend a Local City Council or School Board Meeting
Don’t just read about parliamentary procedure or leadership roles, watch the process in action. Local city council and school board meetings are held regularly and the public is typically welcome to attend.
Visit Your State Capital
If travel to your state capital is workable, consider a visit. Your student may be able to visit museums about state history and if the legislature is in session, they may be able to attend. If your family has an issue you are concerned about, see if it is possible to meet with your state representative or senator to discuss it.
Explore All Sides of an Issue
Reading about politics doesn’t have to be limited to textbooks. Encourage your student to pick an issue of interest and explore it widely from a variety of different viewpoints. That exploration could include reading books, blogs, and meeting with and interviewing people with different viewpoints instead of just limiting to the conservative or liberal viewpoint the student already agrees with. The ability to research carefully and think critically from many sides of an issue is a key citizenship skill for every student to develop.
Students with a strong interest in public policy or government may want to investigate internship possibilities in local government or advocacy organizations. Internships can be used as an extracurricular activity or count for credit on the homeschool transcript. Internships provide valuable job experience and allow students to begin to explore career options. Homeschoolers’ availability during the 9-5 workday can make this a more practical option than it is for many high school students
Think Globally, Act Locally
Is your student passionate about advocating for social change around global level issues? Many national and international organizations allow students to create local chapter groups. The group could be formed among through a homeschool co-op or just among a group of teens who are friends. These groups typically provide structured access to research and projects that are appropriate and accessible for teenagers. This type of involvement can be an excellent opportunity for teens who are looking for more extracurricular involvement and leadership training outside of traditional extracurriculars like sports and music. Examples of groups for students to consider include:
Community Service for Youth: Jane Goodal’s Roots and Shoots
Human Rights: Amnesty International Student or Youth Groups
Poverty and Microfinance: KIVA U
Encourage your student to follow the editorial page of your local print or online newspaper. Read editorials and letters to the editor. If your homeschooler has a strong opinion on an issue of local, national, or global performance, encourage them to write a letter to the editor. Blogging about political issues can also be a great way to develop writing skills.
Volunteering for a Campaign
One of the traditional ways teens begin political involvement is through volunteering for campaigns. Volunteers can help out on campaigns by passing out fliers door to door, making phone calls, and stuffing envelopes. Being involved on the grassroots level is a great way to expose teens to the importance of voting and participating in the political process.