The Civic Circle is a Silver Spring, Maryland nonprofit that brings democracy and civic learning alive for young children with music and drama shared in performances and after-school programs.
Our program meets young kids at their level, and links the arts with learning by inviting students into a creative process. Through song and story, kids learn about seven "steps to democracy," each captured with a single word that grabs the attention of young children: Listen (civil discourse), Learn (media literacy), Choose (voting), etc.
Teachers are invited to enrich the program with such activities as a parliamentary-style debate, a mock election, or a public service project. By getting elementary school-age children excited about democracy, we are cultivating the next generation of active citizens.
At a time when many young people lack basic knowledge about government and public life, the need for civic education has never been greater.
The Civic Circle breaks new ground by getting kids excited about democracy as early as elementary school. Many existing civic education programs focus largely on high school students. Yet very young children readily understand such concepts as fairness, respect, truthfulness, equality, having a voice and helping others.
The Civic Circle also sets itself apart by using the performing arts to bring democracy alive for kids. In our after-school programs, students write their own democracy songs and hear from their civically active older peers. Our educational videos and performances showcase original songs about the Constitution, voting and public service, and lift up youth voices.
The Civic Circle has identified seven civic values, or "steps to democracy," that are at the heart of our program:
Civic Value: Civil Discourse.
Civic Value: Media Literacy.
Civic Value: Voting.
Civic Value: Community Service.
Civic Value: Advocacy
Civic Value: Community Organizing
Civic Value: Public Leadership, Running for Office.