How to Teach Your Kids to Be an Informed Voter
Every four years, we find ourselves in the midst of another presidential election cycle. But there are also off-year elections, which include special elections, mayoral races, gubernatorial elections, and the list goes on. Whether you utilize the Fifteenth Amendment right to vote is entirely up to you, but have you talked to your children about voting? Do they understand how the process works?
By educating our youth to become informed voters, we’re building their confidence to participate in the voting community. An arena that is fueled by the opportunity to spark change, and a hard-won privilege that many others in the world do not share. But where do you begin?
Teach Your Child to Be a Good Citizen
By modeling good behavior, you are leading by example, and, ultimately, teaching your children to be good citizens. From treating the flag with respect and learning about the country to being a good neighbor and taking responsibility, you are instilling solid citizenship. Community involvement is another great example of good citizenship. By taking part in community events, fundraisers, and charities, you’re showing how everyday acts of kindness add up to make big impacts on people’s lives.
Talk About It
Signs, commercials, news spots, and social media posts provide good springboards for conversation, but teach your kids to think critically about the news they consume. “Being able to decipher between truthful and false information in ads is an important part of media literacy, ”says Amber Coleman-Mortley, senior digital media manager at iCivics, a nonprofit group that promotes civics education.
Tell them who you’re voting for and why. Explain what happens if your candidate doesn’t win, and how being a good citizen is figuring out what you can do next. Make a note of the possibility that the winning candidate may also make a positive impact. Most importantly, convey that we have a choice, and we should take advantage to have our voices heard.
Educate Them on the Basics
There are plenty of fun resources out there that can assist in democracy lessons!
- Monster Needs Your Vote (Best suited for ages 2–8)
- How the U.S. Government Works (Best suited for ages 8+)
- See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House (Best suited for ages 8–12)
Games and Activities:
Cast Your Vote
Talking about the important issues with your kids is pertinent, but so is showing them how to take action and illustrating the process as best you can. Show your kids the importance of voting, and they’ll grow up knowing that every vote counts.
How are you teaching your kids to be informed voters? Share your comments below.
Brittany Marklin is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff and a community manager for K12. She coordinates all K12 student contests and connects with families who pursue online education. She attended George Mason University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, with a minor in tourism and events management. Brittany spent her first five years at K12 on the social media team where she aided with content and strategy for multiple channels, and helped construct K12’s user-generated content site, “What’s Your Story?” When she’s not working, Brittany loves spending time with her husband and daughter in North Carolina.