Presidents Day Offers Chance to Look Back

By Huber, Kim | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 15, 2000 | Go to article overview

Presidents Day Offers Chance to Look Back


Huber, Kim, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Next Monday is Presidents Day, the federal holiday that commemorates the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The U.S. president is often considered the most powerful elected official in the world. As citizens of this great nation, we have the privilege and responsibility of electing the person who will assume the title of commander in chief.

As home-schooling parents, we have the added privilege and responsibility to teach our children about the men who have served as president and the political process of filling America's highest elective office. Presidents Day 2000 would be a perfect time to begin a presidential study. Here are three questions to consider:

* Who can become president?

The U.S. Constitution requires the election of a president and a vice president every four years and lists three qualifications. The individual must be at least 35 years of age, have lived in the United States for at least 14 years and be a natural-born citizen.

Let your child do a bit of investigative work to find out who was the youngest president to take office. Who was the oldest to take the oath?

* Who has been president?

Forty-one men have served their country as president. One, Grover Cleveland, served two non-consecutive terms, so Bill Clinton is considered the 42nd, not 41st president. Help your children become familiar with each man. Assist them in listing all of the past presidents in order. You can use posters, flash cards, games and even Internet sites to learn not only the order of the presidents but also interesting facts about America's past leaders.

Did you know the White House was wired for electricity during Benjamin Harrison's term in office? The Harrisons were so afraid of getting shocks from the switches that they sometimes left the lights burning all night until someone came to turn them off. Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt's favorite pet was a kangaroo rat that ate sugar at the breakfast table?

Here's a great home-schooling question: What do George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, John Tyler, Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Harrison and Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt have in common?

* Who will be the next president?

Keeping track of the race to the White House can be an excellent opportunity for helping your children increase their knowledge of civics, current events and history.

In fewer than nine months, citizens nationwide will vote for the 43rd president of the United States. Between now and then, there will be lots of political activity. From the primary elections and national conventions to Election Day, we will read, see and hear the presidential candidates express their views on national, foreign and moral issues.

Teach your children about the political process. By using vocabulary lists - with such terms as absentee ballot, exit polls, delegate, nominate, platform and president-elect - your children will increase their comprehension of the election. …

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