Teaching the Right to Vote
Every November when election time rolls around our local schools hold mock elections where each child gets to cast their vote. The mock elections often incorporate what is happening locally, nationally or a make believe issue at school. The mock elections never fail to bring home some of the most interesting discussions and even heated debates among the kids.
If there’s one thing we’ve taught the kids about voting and politics is that every person has a right to vote and have their voice heard. It’s part of what makes us free and it is part of what makes our country amazing. We’ve also taught them though that with every person’s right to vote and have their voice heard, they also have the right to keep their vote to themselves if they wish. There is no right or wrong vote and there’s no person who can tell them that their vote is wrong. This discussion always happens when two of the kids go head to head on who a better candidate would be or which issue is most important.
We often make a lot of “fun” decisions based on a voting system. This gets the kids thinking about what matters to them, weighing their options and information presented to them. We usually let the kids vote on things like movie night, dinner out, and weekend plans. The kids each have their own opinions and thoughts on what they want. It’s interesting, if not educational for me to say the least, to see them put their votes together for something they want (or don’t want). The decisions may not be earth shattering or life changing (it often only means the difference between Chinese takeout over Pizza) but it teaches the kids that even their vote matters. This is great democracy right before our eyes!
While I don’t always discuss my personal political views with the kids, if they ask what I voted for on Election Day I do tell them. As they get older, I’m sure they will have questions on why I voted one way or another and want to debate the issues, which I’m sure will lead to interesting discussions. I do always remind them that my vote is private to me(just as theirs is) but that I voted the way I did because I felt it was important and I remind them that you can’t elicit change in your world if you don’t participate.
Do you talk to your children about the voting and election process? How much do you decide to discuss?