Talking to Kids about the Upcoming Election

Even little kids are likely to notice the growing excitement around the upcoming presidential election. Campaign signs, tv commercials and news coverage, bumper stickers and conversations about the candidate are abound.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to teach your kids a bit about how our country selects leaders and to begin teaching them about good citizenship. It’s also the perfect chance to teach them the importance of respecting other people’s opinions and views, even if they are different from their own.

Here are some suggestions for bringing the election process alive for your child:

  • Together, explore web sites with activities and information for kids about the election, electoral process, leadership and the candidates.
    • Scholastic Election 2012  – more for older kids. A very informative site where kids can learn the basics of our government, read about the candidates and issues, and even vote. Since the 1940s, Scholastic as hosted a student election where kids vote for US president. The results were just published – a win for President Obama. It’s interesting to see what issues the voting kids marked as those that matter most to them – the economy, health care and the war in Afghanistan.  Also worth noting, the student election has predicted the winner of the presidential election all but two times!
    • BrainPop – for kids kindergarten age and up. An award-winning site that uses animated content to teach difficult concepts, offers free election materials and games for kids.
  • Hold a Family Election. Explain the voting process by having everyone in your family vote for their choice, whether it be which movie to watch, restaurant to visit or book to read before bed.  Have a “debate” to discuss your choices and make your case. Make it fun and more authentic by making a ballot box, ballots and even campaign posters.
  • Dig deeper into history by taking a day-trip to explore local historical sites and monuments, homes of past Presidents and government offices. The National Park Service makes it easy to scout out your local adventure. No time for a day trip, hire a sitter to lead the charge!
  • Take your children with you when you vote on Election Day. Explain the significance of what you are doing, and give them a glimpse of the how-to, along with a lesson on the importance of voting as a key responsibility of citizenship.  They’ll be proud to sport their very own “I Voted” sticker.

For older kids who could benefit from a much more detailed discussion about the election and our government, engage and join them in fun learning projects, like researching and making posters of our three branches of government  or reading about our past presidents.