Kids at this age are becoming engaged on social media, are watching what celebrities do, and have started listening to teachers and friends more as their trusted sources of information. Frankly, they are going to see and talk about things whether we like them to or not. Ask them what they know. Answer their questions. Don’t make them feel like they are wrong for caring about an issue or having a different opinion from you.
Because there is SO MUCH information (and misinformation) available online, parental involvement is key. Don’t let your kids choose candidates based on BuzzFeed quizzes – make sure they have an understanding of the issues.
Primaries and Caucuses – Take your kids with you! Let them be part of the process.
Dinner Table Talks – When talking to your kids about the election, keep it positive. Don’t get angry if their opinions differ from yours, find out why. Set up an open environment for discussion where they know, even if you disagree, their opinion is welcome and where they are willing to listen to why YOU disagree.
Remind them that we aren’t just having a presidential election – there are state and local elections too – and you can show them even closer what that process looks like and what it means to be involved.
Find reputable sources for information – there are TONS of hands on activities you can use for all ages but know who made them – don’t fall for the game that makes every quiz point to a specific candidate!
Activities and Resources
- Think the Vote
- What is the difference between a primary and a caucus? What is a swing state? Where do the candidates stand on the issues? Think the Vote is a one stop election resource!
- Televised Debates and Town Halls
- Watch one of the debates with your child. What issues are they most interested in talking about? Which of the candidates do they like best and why? If they were paying attention to the election before the debate, did watching it change any of their opinions on the issues or the candidates?
- Political Cartoons
- Find age appropriate political cartoons. What do they mean? How can items like this impact elections or public perception?
- Campaign Advertisements
- Talk through the concept of propaganda and why candidates use these ads. What does your child like or dislike about them? If they were going to make a political advertisement, what would they say?
- Electoral College
- How does it work? Use an interactive electoral college map to show how different states impact elections. The National Archives has a map where you can go play with past elections and will update it for the 2016 cycle once candidates are selected – and will let you make family predictions before Election Day! You can make it a competition for who gets the closest to the actual totals.
- Jobs of the Branches
- Most kids think that the president makes all the decisions. You can take your kitchen table and divide it in three sections, one for each branch. Then, ask kids to guess what job/role goes where. You may learn something yourself!
- Who could be President?
- Take celebrities and their ages, and see if your kids know who is old enough or meets the requirements to be President!
- Campaign Platforms
- Where do the candidates stand on the issues? What would your child do if they were president? Have them come up with their own platform and discuss it with them.
- Take your children to city council and school board meetings – let them see the results of elections in real time.
- Online Resources