Teaching Kids about Elections

By Andrea K. Clark

As you know, this is a big year for America as it’s another election year. As I’m writing this blog post, I’m watching the news coverage of the presidential race as the votes are beginning to come in. Why would I be writing a political blog? Trust me, it’s not to tell you who you should have voted for. I’m writing this blog post because it’s incredibly important that we teach our children about the impact voting has – regardless of what type of election it is.

2012 presidental election

When should we start teaching our kids about elections? As soon as they are old enough to grasp the concept of what it means to vote. For most kids, this happens around the age of five. They may not be able to understand what exactly is going on at that age, but they can understand what it means to win or lose based on voting.

So, why do we need to teach our kids about voting and its role in elections? To put it simply: because our future depends on it. Think about it. In 40 or 50 years, when we’re “old and gray,” we are going to be depending on our kids to get out and vote. Basically, at some point, the course of this country is going to be out of our hands and turned over into the hands of our children. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that we start teaching them about politics now, so that they care when they’re old enough to vote.

For a while, it seemed that parents had dropped the ball as young people were not voting in large numbers. However, as studies have shown over the past two presidential elections, this trend is changing. That’s great news! It means that young people are starting to learn that there are more important things in life than material items. For instance, in twenty years from now, it isn’t going to matter what pageant dress your daughter wore, but who won the battle of healthcare will.
So, how can you start teaching your kids about voting, elections and politics?

•    Hold Household “Votes” – When kids are little and there’s an argument in the house about what to do or where to go, vote for it. This teaches kids what it means to vote and how votes determine who wins and loses an election.

•    Talk to Them about Politics – When there are local elections held, talk to your kids about the things they are hearing and seeing on the radio and television. Tell your kids why these people are running for various positions and what those positions do so, as they get older, they can understand how the various branches of our government (local, state and federal) work.

•    Take Them to the Polls – Today, I saw one of the coolest things. A kindergarten teacher in the small town where I live took her on a field trip to the polling station so they could see her vote. As parents, you should do this with your kids, at least once, when they get older.

•    Watch the Results to Presidential Elections Together – Turn on the television and watch the presidential election results together every four years. This is one of the best ways to teach kids about the electoral college and how presidential elections are won…which also teaches kids the importance of voting during every presidential election.

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