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Building Better Citizens

Children are never too young to learn how to be good citizens. "Explain to your children that they are citizens of many communities-their town, the country and the world," says Sharon Bergen, senior vice president of education and training for Knowledge Learning Corporation, the nation's leading provider of early childhood care and education. "Most important," says Bergen, "is for parents to model good citizenship." Bergen suggests parents explain to their children that being good citizens means caring about others. She offers these tips: Start by encouraging citizenship at the local level. Encourage your children to help elderly neighbors-without payment.

At school, they can organize a recycling drive to benefit a local charity. Instill the habit of volunteerism by helping at a library or animal shelter. Children can learn to appreciate their heritage. For example, parents can explain why Americans celebrate the Fourth of July and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.

To drive home the concept that we are all citizens of the world, teach respect for the environment and for other cultures. As a family, join a cleanup project on Earth Day or contribute time and money to assist victims of natural disasters worldwide. With a little effort, children will grow up to take seriously their citizenship in the many communities in which they live.


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