Year Published: 2009

Author: Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D. and Diane Gruber, M.A.

Reprinted with permission from School-Age Notes, the most trusted publisher and provider of quality, innovative resources designed to elevate the skills of adults who create learning opportunities for children and youth.

When envisioning how to engage young citizens in our after-school programs in acts of civic pride and service, images of teens picking up trash in public parks or older youth organizing voting drives might come to mind. Developing an engagement with one's community traditionally has been the domain of the civics or U.S. government classroom, typically taught in the high school years, though cash- and time-strapped schools are dedicating fewer instructional resources to these topics (Gibson, 2001). Civic engagement in the childhood years (5 to 10) is often overlooked as a potential goal, because of misperceptions of what constitutes meaningful engagement with one's community.

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