Many of us grew up thinking voting was just for grown-ups, but actually—voting is a family matter! Not only do elections influence all sorts of issues that impact kids and families, but research shows that seeing that you value your right to vote helps ensure your kids become lifelong voters, too.
Kids may not be able to vote yet, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t learn all they can about the electoral process. Exercising the right to vote is an important way to participate in our democracy and have a voice in our future, and when kids see parents take that responsibility seriously on a regular basis, they may be more likely to vote in the future. Plus, they can learn so much about how our country works just from the discussions around election season.
Voting helps us make the future brighter for them, AND it teaches them the skills they’ll need to speak up for themselves. So it’s truly one of the best ways to care for your kids!
Here are some easy ideas for getting kids excited about elections, even if they can’t vote themselves yet.
Show them the signs
Point out some of the election signs, bumper stickers, brochures, phone calls, and ads that you encounter during election season. Talk about what the messages mean, and consider putting up a poster or sticker for a candidate that you support.
Have a family vote
Show kids how voting works on a smaller scale. Have a family vote about which movie to watch, or what outdoor activity to do on the weekend. Make a ballot box and an anonymous paper voting system, then have the kids help tally votes. Older kids can even promote their favorite choice by making a speech or sign before the family votes.
Talk the talk
Voting is a family matter! The results of elections influence our families’ daily lives, and seeing that you value your right to vote helps ensure your kids grow up to make their voices heard, too!
Talk about the candidates you prefer, the issues you care about, and how you plan to vote. You can even look up candidates’ platforms with your kids, or find out who their funders are.
Spread the word together
Remind others in the community to vote by chalking on your driveway, making a sign for your window, or getting involved in a volunteer postcarding campaign to voters. Older kids can come up with their own messages, while younger kids can help with coloring and decorating, or with stamping and mailing postcards.
Include them in the process
When it’s time for the adults to vote, have kids witness the process in some way. If you’re voting by mail-in ballot, show them how you fill it out, then enlist their help in mailing or dropping it off. If you’re voting in person, show them the outside of an early voting site or Election Day polling place and read the signs together—or even bring them in with you if you can do so safely.
Count on it
After the election, do a simple math activity with kids to show them how the votes were counted. For example, count out 100 Cheerios and divide them into two jars to show them the percentage of votes that went to each candidate. Or print out a map of the U.S. so they can color in each state according to poll results—older kids can add up the electoral votes to understand the outcome.
By seeing your enthusiasm for your civic duty, and getting involved in small ways themselves, kids will absorb more than they would just by reading a book or watching a video about voting. Keep it up for every election, and they’ll probably become a lifelong voter too!
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