1. It's a long day and a long trip with little kids.
What makes it worthwhile?
Well, for one thing, you get to experience the state Capitol—a great historical building. But more importantly, you get to be a face of homeschooling to your legislators. You can participate in the cookie drop, a prayer walk, or tours, and you can visit the art museum, the gift shop, the senate and house galleries, or even the barber shop, if you want. Although many people feel intimidated when coming to the Capitol, remember, it is your
building. Your tax dollars maintain it and pay the salaries of every person in it. It is there for you; there is no reason to feel intimidated.
2. What exactly will we be doing all day?
Just a cookie drop? Do we get a tour?
How long will we be there?
You can make your own cookies, gather up some artwork, make cards, write letters – anything that you can hand deliver to your legislators. Let the kids be involved and let them personally deliver the items to the legislators and introduce themselves. We get compliments every year on the good manners and social skills displayed by our kids. Train your children to look people in the eye, shake their hand and address them respectfully. Our kids will learn that the Capitol isn’t a scary place; and if they come every year, and become familiar with it, they won ‘t be intimidated as voting adults. If you choose to participate in the prayer walk, we will supply a list of things you can pray for as you walk through the Capitol. There is an art gallery on first floor, along with beautiful artwork and statues on every floor. You could spend over an hour just looking around on your own. Tours are available at the gift shop on the first floor. You can also call ahead and schedule one for a group (405-521-3356). How much time you spend will be totally up to you.
3. Will it be inspiring for our middle school age children?
If you make it exciting ahead of time, they will be excited. Especially if they can participate by making something to deliver to their senator or representative. If you call your representative and tell him what you are doing, he may be willing to set up a private tour for your group. Several have done this in the past and have been to places that are not on the regular tours. Ask for a personal tour. All he can do is say no. The whole point is to make contact with your legislators. Doing it with your children will give them the confidence to become active citizens themselves.
Another idea, if you are bringing children, is to have the kids all find out at least one thing about the Capitol before you go, compile a list, and have an organized “scavenger hunt” to find every item on the list. The more items, the more fun you will have. You can go to http://www.arts.ok.gov/capitolart/permart/building.html , http://www.ok.gov/kids/Learn_About_Oklahoma/index.html for some great resources. Just make sure you do not make it a race or an event that would cause chaos. Do it as a family or a group, not a contest. I have done this with my children when they were younger and it made for a very interesting day.
4. Do I have to purchase a lunch in order to attend the luncheon with my legislators?
You are welcome to bring your own lunch, purchase a lunch at one of the snack bars, or have no lunch at all. Simply use that time to sit down and talk with your legislators in a more relaxed and open setting. We do have a limited number of seats due to fire codes, so any empty chair is open for you to use. If you want to be assured that your legislator will be available at lunch, you will need to do the inviting and purchase a lunch for him. It is a small price to pay for your homeschool freedom.
5. Can my children attend the Town Hall forum with me?
The Town Hall is designed to be a crash course for parents on current legislative issues, how to understand what the issues mean, and how to express our concerns to the legislators. Although we are making every effort to make Capitol Day a great family experience, you need to understand that this session could become very intense and possibly very boring for young children.
6. What if I missed the pre-registration deadline?
No worries. You can still come to Capitol Day. It just makes it easier for everyone if you pre-register. It gives us a better count to know how many handouts to print and allows us to have name tags and lunch tickets ready and organized. We also have fire codes set by the Fire Marshall which limits us to the number of particpants so getting to the Capitol early is always a plus.
7. Can I purchase a lunch after I get there?
We do not order any extra lunches.
8. Won't my young children be a distraction or disruptive?
The State Capitol is a business office, NOT a shrine or place of reverence. Like any business office, it should be treated, with respect. Don't let your children run, scream, play on the elevators, wander off unattended, go in and out of offices, etc. Treat the Capitol as you would a museum, church, or other business office. Use inside feet and voices, and don't touch something that has a sign on it asking you not to. The State Capitol is YOUR Capitol. You and your children need to feel comfortable visiting.
9. Do I have to stay the entire time or leave when the event is over?
How long you stay is totally up to you. If all your schedule allows is one hour, then come one hour. If you want to stay later, it is your choice. The point is to come. Right now, there is a trend for elected officials to lump all homeschool families into a category of weirdos and radicals. You can alter that perception by being the face of homeschoolers to your legislators. Let them know that you are a normal, law-abiding family that has chosen an alternate method of education for your children because it is what is best for your family. Let them see that you are not a threat. Let them know you support them and they will be more willing to support your homeschool efforts.Remember, the main objective of Capitol Day is to meet with your legislators. We want this day to be a positive experience for them and you.