Election Day: Ways to Teach Your Kids About the Importance of Voting
Election Day is coming up fast, and voting is an important part of being an American citizen. While elections and politics are considered by many to be adults-only issues, there’s value in talking about voting with your children. It teaches kids about democracy and being a good citizen at a young age.
There are plenty of kid-friendly ways to talk about voting and elections. Encourage your children to share their opinions and make their voices heard by exercising their right to vote!
Here are some ways to teach your kids about the importance of voting and get the conversation going as Election Day approaches.
Set a Good Example
One of the best ways to show your kids that voting is important is by exercising your right to vote yourself. Bring them to your local polling place with you. If you’re voting by mail, bring them with you to drop off your ballot.
While you’re doing that, talk to them about why you’re doing what you’re doing and why voting is important to you. Young kids model their behavior off of their parents, so setting a good example for them will go a long way towards encouraging them to vote in the future!
Read Stories About Voting at Home
In the lead up to Election Day, work some books about voting and democracy into your story time rotation.
PBS has a list of picture books about voting and elections if you’re looking for a place to start. You can also make a trip to a local library and ask for recommendations there. These stories can show the importance of voting in a way that’s easier for kids to grasp.
Show Them Signs Of An Upcoming Election
The signs that election season is coming up are all around us– lawn signs, mailers, ballots, bumper stickers. Teach your kids about what these things are, and use them as a jumping off point to talk about what elections are happening this year.
Hold a Family Election at Home
Here’s a chance for your kids to try out voting for themselves and see first-hand that voting is a way for a group of people to come to a decision. Hold an election on a family matter, like what you should have for dinner or what movie you should watch as a family.
Allow family members to engage in respectful debate about the pros and cons of each option– this will also teach children about how to express their different opinions in kind and respectful ways. Have everyone cast a secret ballot and then announce the winner!
Talk About What’s On the Ballot
If you have older children, it may be helpful to talk about what you’re voting on this year as a way to demonstrate what’s typically at stake in elections. This is especially important in non-presidential election years. Elections are important, even when we’re not electing a president.
Talk with your kids about a kid-friendly issue that’s on the ballot this year. For example, a statewide ballot measure in New York this year includes a bond issue that would issue $4.20 billion towards projects related to the environment, natural resources and climate change mitigation.
Talk to your older kids about what this means, why it was proposed and why people might be for or against it. This will show kids that elections are more than picking a president and may get them thinking about their own thoughts on issues.