The presidential election is upon us. Have you talked to your child about the importance of voting? My oldest teen voted in his first election during the primaries. My younger teen discussed the voting process, polling statistics and other information in his Economics class.
When the boys were younger they learned about the voting process through mock elections at their school. Below is a reflection of that time through an article I wrote for our local newspaper several years ago. The information is still relevant.
In their version of a town hall meeting, middle school students participated in mock elections. Signs displayed throughout the school encouraged would be voters to elect their favorite candidate.
When I asked my son about the candidates platform he said, “what?” After further explanation on my part he went on to tell me what the students hoped to achieve if they were elected. “One person said he would try to have breakfast served at school,” he said. “Another person said he would try to have recess extended but said, “it would be a hard request to carry out.”
The concept of holding mock elections seems to be beneficial to students. In making observations as I walked through the halls, I could see so many benefits of this exercise. Students are learning public speaking, they are standing up for something they believe in, and they’re learning good citizenship.
During the schools morning assembly, there was mention of core democratic values. One sixth grade class helped to lead the assembly by giving short statements about core democratic values. This experience and other conversations about the democratic process help to teach our children that they have a voice. Teaching children at a young age will help them to make informed decisions later.
What can families do to teach their children about voting and the democratic process? An article I read recently called Democracy North Carolina, suggested that families develop the following habits:
- Give your children a vote in family decisions whenever possible.
- Provide books, magazines, newspapers and other resources that offer opportunities to discuss political issues and different ethical or moral views.
- Show your interest in civic affairs and include your child in conversations about what’s happening in the world.
- Read to your children from books that promote responsibility, good citizenship, making a difference and teamwork.
Voting is a powerful tool and an election is the perfect time to teach children about the political system in our country. Depending upon their age, we can teach them how to choose a party to vote for. One way to do this would be to encourage them to choose a party that reflects their beliefs and ideas.
When you venture out to vote on November 8th why not take the kids with you? This could be the starting point for a discussion on voting.