Nothing is as simultaneously divisive and uniting as an American presidential election. And with some candidates and their throngs of rabid followers often acting like schoolyard bullies, it’s no wonder that many kids take this behavior to the playground (or—more likely in this day and age—to social media or the nasty netherworld of online comments sections).
But the inundation of election coverage proffered by the media can be turned into a learning experience: one that teaches about the election process as well as basic civility and the respect of others.
Campaigns and Tribulations
One way of protecting children from rancorous rhetoric is to kindle their interest in the actual issues at stake this political season: teaching them that there’s more to elections than soundbites, slurs, snarky bumper stickers, and angry people yelling on television! In fact, voting is exciting, historic and the greatest honor we Americans enjoy.
Start out by addressing a student's basic questions. What is voting? Who can vote? Why should people vote? Why can’t kids vote? What does a president do? What is a political party? What are the differences between the parties? And what’s the deal with the donkeys and elephants?
You can begin the conversation by making the process seem somehow relevant to their daily lives: like how family members vote on what movie to watch. This is also a great opportunity to explore the concepts put forth by our founding fathers, as well as the responsibilities of the President beyond simply leading the nation.
Students Vote 2016
The one major obstacle to developing a child’s interest in politics is their disappointment to learn they don’t get to vote! Yet thanks to the Students Vote 2016 program, students can participate in the democratic process and build lifelong critical thinking skills that bridge their personal beliefs with the actions of the presidential candidates.
The Students Vote 2016 program includes a Teacher Guide and Election Issues resources to help educators incorporate these topics into their daily lesson plans. The most exciting part? Students can reflect on their collected belief statements and poll responses to vote in the Newsela Students Vote 2016 election from October 17 to November 1.
Spread the Word
Bring your student (of all ages) to the polls from Oct. 17. Once you do, share this post with someone else encouraging them to "take their students to the polls"!
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