Use the Summer Break to Give Your Kids a Real Civics Education

“But freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it, and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, and you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” — President Ronald Reagan

Got kids? Are they home over the summer? It’s a necessary and important time to teach liberty lessons culminating with a July 4th  quiz!

Most kids across America learn nothing about civics during the school year. If parents rely on the schools to educate our kids about how our republic works and government functions, why free enterprise is good and debt is bad, why knowledge is power and reason is a civic responsibility, then America will most certainly be lost.

America’s schools are currently raising new generations of default liberals simply because most schools either don’t teach civics or teach only liberal perspectives. Kids can’t reason with only one perspective. If our nation’s youth are zombies — munching chips in their La-Z-Boys — with a “Give me liberty and gimme, gimme” attitude, then it’s because America’s parents have fallen asleep at the wheel.

How to get their attention? Start by telling them that if they are not active in the government, then their Facebook and Instagram could someday be censored or abolished. Tell them that their favorite rock concerts could be canceled. Tell them that if they ever got in trouble with the law for, say, speeding, they might not have their Habeas Corpus rights and could sit in prison for months. Tell them that if they were to speak their minds negatively against Congress, or the president, they could be banished to chop ice in the North Slope of Alaska — forever.

They might say, “Yeah, get real mom. That’s never going to happen.” Then tell them that drones are now flying over our heads, listening to our conversations. Tell them that the government is dictating to the Catholic Church how Catholics should compromise their morals. Tell them that people with conservative values are being denied work in Hollywood. Ask them how often the shows they watch on television have a religious message.

Teach them! Read the Constitution to them in the backyard over a BBQ. Teach them financial responsibility by showing them how to balance a checkbook — and then show them the U.S. Debt Clock. Tell them how our country could be taken over by our debtors without a shot being fired because we can’t pay our bills. Tell them to mow the lawn for $20, and then withhold $10 from the pay and give the withheld ten dollars to a sister or brother who did nothing.  Tell them you are simply “spreading the wealth around.”

Quiz them on their civic knowledge:

1)     Are we a republic or a democracy?

2)     Who said, “Give me liberty or give me death”?

3)     Who said, “But where, say some, is the king of America? I’ll tell you He reigns from above”?

4)     Who was president of the Constitutional Congress?

5)     Who is the father of the Constitution?

6)     What was the Connecticut Compromise?

7)     Who gives us our rights? The government or God? Why is this important?

8)     Why are Articles I, II and III so important?

9)     How did Amendment 16 grow our government?

10)   What are the two ways to amend the Constitution? Why did our founding fathers put the amendment process in the Constitution?

11)   How many years are U.S. representatives in office? President? U.S. senators? Why?

12)   What does “usurpation” mean? How would one branch usurping the other affect our Bill of Rights?

13)   Who wrote the Preamble? Is it law?

14)   Why is it important to vote during midterm elections?

15)   Why is voting important?

16)   Why is “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction” true?

Then give them a pen, a guitar, or a camera and have them check out my foundation Constituting America’s  We the People 9.17 Contest. Kids write their own songs, film their own movies, create their original public service announcements, write essays and speeches, draw art and create poetry about the United States Constitution. College kids win $2,000, high school kids win $1,000, younger kids win gift cards and prizes, and all kids get a free trip to Philadelphia, a private tour of the historical monuments, and the opportunity to perform their winning works on the National Constitution Center stage and star in a music video and documentary. It’s a perfect way to spend the beginning of the summer. Entries are due July 4 – just in time for their quiz.

Finally, have them check out Our Constitution Rocks, a fabulous new book for students of all ages that makes the Constitution modern and fun, hip and cool. The author is my daughter. It’s available just in time for our United States Constitution’s 225th birthday and just in time for our 2012 election.

Summer is the perfect time to educate future citizens and nurture future heroic leaders. Our kids are the future torchbearers of liberty, but they must understand it in order to uphold it. They cannot light a fire if they do not have the flame.

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” — John Adams