When our children were younger, one of my favorite things to do during campaign season was to teach them about elections by getting involved in the process as a family, using a unit-study approach. J From reading about the childhoods of some of our presidents, the stories of the Founding Fathers, volunteering to help with campaigns when the kids were old enough, and taking them along to vote from when they were tiny tots to their first time voting as adults, we set the pace and stayed involved in the process. After all, they learn by watching us!
There are so many wonderful lessons about government and responsibility, and they finally begin to understand that we ARE the government. Government is not some separate company or corporation like Wal-Mart or McDonalds—it is a group of people that we elect to represent our family. This vital concept is one that they will share with the next generation and on and on.
1. Keep the learning simple and matched to the age. Hold mock elections at home, voting on dessert or family vacation destinations to give them an idea of majority rule. J
2. As they grow older, start discussing some of the major local, state, and national issues that will be part of this year’s election. Challenge them to investigate the issues and form their own opinions, and listen with open ears and minds to what they discover.
3. Have fun with these topics, letting them see that candidates and elected officials are real people who were once children full of fun and laughter, and most of them raised families as they led our country.
4. If your area has town-hall type meetings, take the older children to attend some of them so they can listen and learn how the process works.
5. If at all possible, take them with you when you vote. This is a great activity for many types of learners, and it’s unforgettable!
Now take off and enjoy the learning adventure—this can be SO much more interesting and important than any dull, boring textbook on government!