Get Kids Involved in the Election

It’s officially election season, and all of America is watching as the candidates sprint to the Nov. 4 deadline.

In this historic race, it is important to be an organized and well-informed citizen. That means knowing the issues, understanding the candidates’ backgrounds and their voting records.However, if you have children, you should also use this opportunity to explain the importance of voting, the election process and the positions of each candidate. Your children are the future of the country, so what better time to start teaching them about the role that normal individuals play in this vibrant democracy than right now. Plus, taking part in an adult activity, even though their vote doesn’t count yet, will make them feel older and important.

Alicia on “Do Your Election Homework”:

There are a whole lot of media sites out there to consider. But it’s also critical to get a feel for each party and candidate directly. Check out the Democratic Party’s and Republican Party’s Web sites as well as Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s Web sites. When you see the viewpoints directly from the candidates and political parties, the information will not be influenced by media commentary. The opinions they post on their Web sites will be directly from them: www.barackobama.com and www.johnmccain.com. Also www.rnc.org and www.dnc.org.

Sarah on “Be Fair and Balanced”:

One of the greatest liberties we in the United States have is the freedom to choose. As much as we would like our children to follow in our footsteps in many ways, political choice is a freedom in this nation that we must instill in our children. That’s why it’s more than important to give our children facts about the candidates without trying to sway their opinions. Instead, present your future voter with the candidates and issues, do your best to let them ask their questions and be sure to answer them without a skewed opinion. Freedom of opinion is a core to democracy, so encourage with the logic that as long as they make a well-informed decision about the candidates, you support their opinions, even if they are different from your own.

Here a three ways to get your children involved and engaged in the upcoming elections.

#1. Make a Chart
Get some simple poster board and list out two sides — one for each party. Then list the issues and each candidate’s stance on each issue. Next, go through each issue and have your child help decide the pros and cons of each candidate’s opinion on each issue (of course, the child will need help coming up with these, but do your best not to slant the information you give). After you list all the information, allow him or her to make a decision based on the issues that he or she considers most significant.

#2. See the Candidates Live
If you can’t make it to a live event, at least go to a local party event. Candidate Web sites list when they will be speaking in or near your city. If there are no events in the next month near you, check out your local community’s Republican or Democratic party events. It is crunch time, so there should be plenty to see and interact with. Also, take your children with you on Election Day so they can see how the process works.

#3. Get Involved!
Alicia’s daughter Lucy (age 6) feels very strongly about the environment, so we’ve volunteered with her at local community-beautification projects. This teaches her about nonprofit politics and lets her make a difference in our area. Our marketing associate, Ashleigh, used to volunteer with the Voter News Service in her community and call in the local voting results to the media on Election Day. “It made me feel like I was a part of the election even though I wasn’t old enough to vote,” she said. No matter how you choose to get involved with your kids and politics, any little bit makes a difference.