Explaining politics to a child can seem daunting. Why is voting important? How does one person make a difference? These questions can be hard to answer.
Here at Lingokids, we find that the best way to explain voting to a child is through real-life examples, like the election that was just held in the US. Through this, we can show them how voting is a way to actually take part in our democracy, and how it is relevant on a smaller scale too, like in family decision-making. Here are some tips to help our little citizens take an interest in politics and voting.
Politics for Kids at Home: Creating A Voting System For Kids
By making a voting system at home, children can see the direct impact of their votes. Kids know that they have to eat their vegetables, but through voting, they can choose which ones. Grown-ups in this situation act as the politicians, listening to everyone’s preferences and going with the most popular choice. If one family member likes carrots more and three like peas more, the grown-ups go with peas.
This gets kids used to the election process, in which politicians usually follow the wishes of the majority. An election process for kids is another good way of introducing them to the system. You could accept applications for different household roles, such as Head of Vacuuming, or President of Doing the Dishes. Ask them to present their ideas to improve those tasks and hold votes!
Teach Your Child To Use Their Voice
Explaining politics to a child starts with policies, not personalities. Making a simple guide to explain what each politician or party stands for and what they would do if they won the election is very straightforward!
Kids can decide the policies that are most important to them, and grown-ups can explain their own priorities. These could be parks, schools, or the environment. In this way, kids can learn to express their political opinions and needs and can gain the skills to speak more freely if something is bothering them.
Consider The Needs Of Others, Too
When you explain politics to a child, it’s easy to get caught up in your family’s own needs and wishes. However, this is a prime opportunity to teach children to consider the needs of others at the same time, and about diversity. Children can ask their friends what policies are important to them and their families, which will help give them perspective and show them how much politics really impacts daily life.
Another important lesson is respect for different opinions. Instead of judging people for voting a certain way, kids can learn to understand why people have these feelings and preferences.
They can see how opinions often come from life experiences and that people aren’t always bad because they believe and say things you don’t agree with. Politics is all about compromise and kids can see this for themselves by negotiating what to play with their friends.
Getting kids involved in home activities relating to government policies
Certain issues are very important to children already, especially environmental ones, in which the future of the world’s animals is at stake. By teaching kids how to recycle, they can see how significant their actions are and then apply this to the government.
Kids can create a scoring system and see who can recycle the most or create drawings of trees and animals and color in a section when they recycle. These activities display their progress and show them how much one person can achieve. They will then begin to ask questions like, “if one child can achieve so much, why isn’t the government doing more?”
Learning on the ground
Taking kids to government buildings will really bring politics to life. They will get the chance to experience history, discover what votes and policies were born in each building, and realize how they can influence the future.
Getting in touch with your local government representative is another way to make politics real. Writing a letter of thanks—or one that explains concerns—will show kids that they have a way of expressing their voice, getting a response, and maybe making a change themselves someday!
In these times, there are many peaceful protests about different important issues.
Going to see this and explaining to children why people are unhappy opens them up to the struggles of others and introduces them to a legitimate and effective way of expressing themselves peacefully. This is also an opportunity to tell them about times in which protests have brought about change, such as women gaining the right to vote, workers’ rights, and other historical advances. By making connections between such well-known progress and the protests in front of their eyes, children will feel empowered and more politically motivated.
These activities and ideas can help you explain politics, voting, and the election process to a child. We hope they find these exciting and motivating, and that they provide a warm welcome to becoming a conscious citizen.
Join our IGTV with Meredith Chasney, Product Owner of Kids Media at Lingokids, and Meena Harris, @meena, CEO and Founder of @phenomenal, and NYT bestselling author, as they chat about empowering young activists.?
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