My mail-in ballot arrived the other day. As I opened it, I thought what a great opportunity it was to talk about voting with kids. I hadn’t yet talked to my kids about the election. I overheard them mention something about Donald Trump, which I assumed they’d heard on the news. As of yet, I have not talked to my kids about politics whatsoever. They do not know anything about my beliefs and we hadn’t covered anything about voting. When my ballot arrived, I changed all of that.
1. What is Voting
To start, I talked to my kids simply about what is voting. We talked about who can vote and why people vote. I started by explaining the president, because my kids have heard about and do understand the role of president of the United States. Most certainly, I eventually need to get to the point of describing the senate, house, local elections, etc. But to start, especially with young kids like mine, the president is a good place to start.
2. How to Vote
Next, I explained to my kids why my ballot came in the mail and explained that some people choose to vote by mail and some people vote in person. I showed them all of the different names on the ballot and described the process of selecting. I also described that you have to be 18 to vote and that it is really important to learn about the candidates before you decide who to vote for. At first, my son was a bit disappointed he isn’t old enough to vote. But, I used that as a great incentive for him to learn more and to start getting them excited for the prospect of voting in the future.
3. Why Voting Matters
The question of why voting matters should definitely be a part of the conversation when you decide to talk about voting with kids. Clearly one of the most important reasons we should vote is simply because it is our civic duty as Americans and our vote matters. If we want to be a member of our society, and we care about how things are run, then our vote is our voice. I explained to my kids that voting is our way to have a positive impact on society and that if we do want things to change, we have to vote.
If you’re looking for other resources for how to talk about voting with kids, here are some great bi-partisan resources:
Have you talked to your kids about voting? What has worked for you?