If I hear one more…”and I endorsed this message,” or read or hear one more argument (vs. discussion) between friends in person or online, I might burst. I am proud of our democratic process and beyond thankful for the opportunity that I have to vote. And because I love that freedom and my children, I’m hoping to spend the next few days (only 4 more days people – we can make it!) engaging with my children about our ever so powerful right to vote! Election awareness can start early for little ones — here are a few family friendly ideas to consider:
Head to the Library for a themed trip that is election focused. Some wonderful choices of children’s books that are election focused include Duck For President by Doreen Cronin, Ready, Set, Vote! By Madonna, Grace for President by Kelly S. DiPucchio, and Clifford For President by Acton Figueroa. There are numerous selections for children of all ages just waiting for your family at the library.
Discuss patriotism while being creative at home. Show your American pride by making cookies or crafts and sharing them with veterans (Veteran’s Day IS just around the corner). Pinterest has no shortage of inspirational options these days. Here’s a few: http://pinterest.com/search/?q=election+kids
VOTE at home! There’s no better way for a child to understand democracy than to experience it first hand themselves. If they are old enough, read and outline key issues between candidates together. If they are too young to understand the ins and outs of politics (I think I may fit this category at 35!), make a mock election with kid friendly decisions…Oreos or chocolate chip cookies? Trip to the park or to the movies? Madagascar Or Mary Poppins? (Ms. Poppins gets my vote every time!) Decorate a bathroom or closet with a simple voting box and let each member of your family take a turn casting their votes. Better yet, invite friends or neighbors to increase your voting pool.
Replace this week’s game night by staging a campaign and let your children make signs and give speeches with you playing the moderator role! Letting them debate what their rules for the house would be if they were the Commander in Chief! Helping them think through their platform and verbalizing it in age appropriate ways is a great language based activity. This can be as simple as YES/No answers for younger kids (If you win the election, will you allow cereal for dinner? YES!)
Finally, take your children to vote with you. Like any other childhood activities, children learn what they live. If your children see you voting regularly, they will grow with the expectation that voting is important. More importantly than voting, is your attitude for the process. Modeling positive behavior in regards to how you learn about your candidates, make your decisions, and constructively discuss your views with friends and at home will leave a lasting impression on your children. Each election season, it seems we as a nation get more volatile – but WE as parents can change this by modeling behavior that would make our founding fathers AND our the children of our future proud.