Teach your child about voting
It’s election season. With the conclusion of the presidential and National Assembly elections, the country is gearing up for the governorship and State Assembly elections. Thus, there is no better time to let your kids know about voting.
Your child must have heard you talk about your preferred candidates and the efforts you have made to get them elected. As a democratic nation, elections present citizens with an opportunity to be heard through their votes.
Hence, it is not too early to equip your little ones with the right knowledge and key information about voting processes to prepare them for when they will be of age to vote.
To hold conversations about voting with your child, show them the concept of voting. Even preschoolers can grasp the idea that voting is a way for people to make decisions. To bring the concept home, go grassroots. Try having a family vote about something that really impacts your child’s day. For example, vote about what to make for Sunday dinner, what game to play or what book to read.
For older children, try introducing the concept of nominating a meal or game before the vote and let them make a speech to advocate for their favourite choice.
Share your voting beliefs with your child. You can tell him why you prefer a particular candidate. Also, talk about the things that are important to you and your family in this election – after all, many of the decisions we make today from environmental protection to affordable education and job creation will impact your kids as they grow.
Teach your child respectful disagreement, which is a key part of the elections. Young children are still learning how to be considerate to others and their perspectives, hence it is a great time to teach kids that it is perfectly fine to disagree with people and that they can all practice listening to other ideas with respect.
During election season, media stories about hard-to-understand issues may cause kids concern. One of the best tactics to alleviate worry is to focus on kid-sized solutions. For example, if children are concerned about people being healthy and cared for, give them opportunities to help in ways that are understandable and immediate.
You can generate excitement around elections. Show your children samples of the ballot that are found online and even help them create their own. You can set up a little voting booth and make them an ‘I Voted’ sticker or button/badge to wear after they have cast their votes. By showing your child that voting is important, he/she will more likely grow up participating in the voting process.
Use Math to explain election results. Represent the election results with a jar of bottle caps, crayons or other household objects. Start with 100 objects and then divide them into two jars to represent the percentage of the vote each candidate received. Use words like more and fewer with younger children. Older children may want to help you count or write numbers on cards to label the jar for each candidate.
Point out signs of election season as there are always signs of an election season with posters and commercials, bumper stickers and even campaign phone calls that could interrupt dinner. Point out these concrete examples of election season and encourage your child to notice them as well, after all these signals encourage us to learn about the candidates and remind us to vote.
Voting is a part of the democratic process; it is a civic right. Teaching your child about it early will ensure that he/she looks forward to turning 18 so he/she can also take on this civic responsibility.