Tips to Help Children Understand the Power of Voting
Increasing voting turnout starts with impassioning young minds about topics and issues that affect their everyday lives, which will empower them to use their right to vote. Having positive discussions about voting with children while they are young can have many enduring benefits. Teach children about voting and you can help them discover confidence in their beliefs and grow passionate about using their right to vote for what they believe in.
If creating lifelong voting habits in your children is important to you, try these six tips to teach children about the power and importance of voting.
1. Find Out What is Most Important to Them
The topic of voting can be boggling to developing minds, but if you have a little one at home, you know they sure do have their own opinion about things. To approach the concept of voting with children, an easy place to start could be to ask them to list topics that are most important to them.
This list can include things like playing at the park, going to daycare or school, or going to the doctor when they get sick. This list outlines the topics – or issues – that are most important to their everyday lives. Choose a topic that is important to them and ask how they feel about it. Get their opinion!
Young children may not understand the importance of funding for public parks, but they do understand that fixing the broken swing set would greatly benefit their playground. Are there any local candidates who are equally as passionate about parks and playgrounds? Explain that when they are old enough, they will be able to vote in favor of topics like these.
2. Demonstrate That Different Opinions are Normal
Everyone wants to raise their children to be considerate of others. This is a lifelong concept that we all continue to develop as adults. When talking to kids about their opinions, it’s important to demonstrate that everyone is allowed to share their ideas, even if they are different from our own.
We all learn at a young age that not everyone will share the same values or beliefs, but understanding that everyone has a say is essential to maintaining equality. Voting is a great tool that allows everyone to voice their own opinion, and being respectful of that is a fundamental part of democracy.
3. Conduct Family Votes at Home
If you are trying to decide what movie to watch this weekend, or what to have for dessert – vote on it! Taking a family vote on small things that still result in something that is enjoyable is a fun way to introduce your kids to the process of voting.
Choose two or three options and have each family member choose one off the not-so-official voting ballot. Once all the ballots are in, the one with the most votes wins! Even if their choice didn’t win the majority, they will still get to watch a movie with their family or get a sweet treat after dinner.
4. Read Them Children’s Books About Voting
Children’s books are a great resource for introducing new topics to young ones in the terms and situations they can connect with. Many picture books about voting explore new topics or concerns that affect the characters in the story, and how they overcame them through the power of voting.
At the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, we have plenty of engaging resources to help young ones learn more about the world around them. Enjoy fun and thought-provoking books with beautiful imagery, read aloud by our staff during our Storytime on YouTube!
5. Point Out Election Signs Around Town
When you’re out and about, take the time to point out election signs in people’s yards or bumper stickers on cars. Regardless of the candidate or proposition they support, seeing other people using their voice can encourage them to use their own.
Seeing opposing signs in the same area also reinforces that we all have different opinions, and that’s okay! Even if we don’t all agree, we are all entitled to our own beliefs. And that is why we vote.
6. Encourage Your Child By Voting
The best way to teach children about voting is to exercise your right to vote! Come poll time, cast your vote! Share with your child the experience of using your right to vote on the topics you care about. Talk about why you are voting and explain how the process of going to a polling place or mailing in your absentee ballot works.
Seeing that voting is important to you, and is a right that adults use regularly, will help instill more interest in them. By the time they are old enough, you can show them how to register and use their vote to support their ideals and values just like you do.
Show the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County How You Empower Little Voters
Did your family conduct your own vote recently? If you have any fun voting inspired activities or tips, we want to hear about them! Share photos of your dinnertime ballots or “I Voted Stickers”, or other fun voting games and tag us on social media!
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