We wanted to know how best to talk to our children about the upcoming election so we asked Eduardo Holguín, political coordinator for the National Education Association in New Mexico and a retired fifth grade social studies teacher for some pointers on how to make sure the youngsters understand what is going on in the country. Holguín says it’s important to instill a sense of social responsibility in young children, “Election is a prime time to teach them about our participatory government,” he points out. “They’ll learn that it’s more than just watching the world go by and that you don’t have to wait for somebody to do something. You are somebody.”
Below, he shares some simple ways to introduce your child to the political world:
- Help your child conduct polls of family members’ political views so they learn how to form unbiased questions and analyze survey results. Then discuss her findings.
- Learn about your state’s representatives and senators.
- Take your child to community meetings where he can see firsthand how people argue their points and make decisions.
- Teach her about the ideals written in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
- On Election Day, take your child into the booth with you and let her help you pull that lever.
- Watch the inauguration together on January 20, 2009 and talk about the transition of power from one leader to the next.
- Expand your child’s horizons by using this time to teach him about the political process in other countries.
- Use an educational magazine geared towards kids such as the Weekly Reader to keep her up to date on current events.
And be sure to check out this slide show of kid-friendly books that will introduce your little ones to the political process in their own language. If you have older kids who are excited about this years election, but still too young to legally vote, let them know about urvotecounts.com. Promoted by our favorite Wizard of Waverly Place, Selena Gomez, the website encourages teens to get knowledgeable about the issues surrounding this election in the hopes of making sure they register to vote when they turn 18.