Teaching kids about voting and elections is important so we can educate and raise the next generation of informed voters. Election Day on November 6 is fast approaching. We can always tell it is the time of year for elections when we start receiving piles of political mail in the mailbox daily. This of course sparked a homeschool learning adventure in our family. Big Sister heard us talking about candidates, ballot initiatives, absentee ballots and political parties and thought it was all so confusing. Then we found a helpful kids’ book at the library that focuses on teaching kids about voting. What a great resource!
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Teaching kids about voting with a book
We discovered an excellent kid friendly book at our local library that does a great job explaining voting and elections. The book is VOTE! by Eileen Christelow. This book teaches kids the basic concepts of voting and elections written from the perspective of a dog observing the elections and voting process. The book is fun yet educational and makes the complicated process of voting and elections understandable for kids. This was too complex of a book for 2 year old Little Brother but perfect for 7 year old Big Sister to grasp the concepts.
The back of the book has a word list with basic voting related words and definitions in simple terms so kids can understand the concepts. I also loved the Timeline of Voting Rights at the end. This sparked a great conversation with Big Sister about the history of voting related to people of different ethnic backgrounds and gender in the United States. The author provides a helpful list of online resources to explore so we can further our knowledge about voting and elections.
Using real life experiences to teach kids about voting
There are many opportunities to teach kids about voting in the months leading up to the actual election day on November 6. Here are a few ideas:
- Look at political mail or advertisements. We received piles of political mail everyday in the months leading up to the elections. These are a great tool to use to explain who the different candidates are, the political office they are running for, and the platform they are running on. We also receive mail about ballot measures up for vote on topics such as a mill levy, changes to our state’s laws, tax changes, etc. These also are helpful tools to explain what we are voting on and how the issues impact our family and community.
- Attend a candidate debate or public forum. There are numerous public events in our area where political candidates are doing meet-and-greet type sessions. There are also candidate debates that can be viewed in person or streamed online. A lot of the information being discussed at the debate or forum is too complicated for young children to understand but observing the process is all part of the learning experience.
- Review an Absentee Ballot. My husband and I have been voting Absentee ballots for several years. It is a great experience being able to show Big Sister what an Absentee ballot it is, explaining how it is filled out, and the specific procedure for how to mail it in.
- Take a field trip to an official polling place on Election Day. My mom is voting at the local polling place in our community so Big Sister can take a field trip with Grandma. She will see first hand about the voting experience at a polling place on election day. If she’s lucky, she may even get her very own “I voted” sticker which my voting friends proudly wear on November 6 (not getting an “I voted” sticker is the only downside of voting an Absentee Ballot!)
With the helpful VOTE! book to explain the basic concepts of voting and elections paired with our real-life learning experiences, Big Sister now has a much better grasp on voting. What a wonderful experience this has been in helping to educate a member of the next generation of voters in America!
If you have an idea to share about ways to teach kids about voting and elections, please share in the comments below!