My elementary aged kids are too young to learn about politics, right?
The next Presidential election happens Tuesday, November 3, 2020 and is already generating plenty of emotions and debate. If your kids are anything like mine they have some big questions.
- What is politics?
- How does the President get elected?
- Can I vote?
- What does the President do?
- What does the inside of AirForce One look like?
Okay, so that last one may be specific to my airplane-obsessed son. Fortunately it was solved with a quick Google search. I do love that the 2020 presidential election has led to enthusiastic learning about our American government so I can talk politics with my kids!
What Is Politics?
When explaining the upcoming election to young children, it can help to explain what politics is and why it’s so important.
Politics is a term used to describe how a group works together.
Groups often have common goals, but members may differ in opinion about how those goals should be accomplished. Who gets to decide what the group does? What can be done when someone doesn’t like the outcome?
While trying to explain politics might seem like a big topic to tackle with small children, it’s amazingly easy to see politics at work. Sports teams, local community groups, and even our home all have fantastic examples that demonstrate politics. When you start to talk politics with kids, start there with groups your kids are familiar with.
Here’s an example from our family.
- A common goal of our family is to celebrate birthdays.
Ideas to Reach the Goal
- Mom and Dad want to concentrate on experiences over gifts.
- One child wants to have a big birthday celebration with friends.
- Another child would rather have money in lieu of gifts or a party.
Making the Decision
- Mom and Dad decide together.
- The family votes.
- We pull straws.
Since not everyone in a group can have their way all the time, there need to be rules establishing how to keep the group working towards common goal(s) and what to do when there are disagreements.
For our above family birthday scenario, the following may be helpful:
- Hold family meetings to come up with new solutions.
- Have dinner conversations revolving around how to make the decision fair.
- Parents may present pre-approved solutions.
Why Talk Politics with Kids?
Politics aren’t always fun or comfortable to talk about, but political talk is everywhere. Tidbits of political gossip are overhead by little ears from media, family, friends, etc. Overhearing a debate led my children to question whether the president was a good guy or bad guy. These teachable moments make for great conversation starters to help our children better understand how the government works!
The people in government make decisions that impact all of us everyday. As homeschoolers, the upcoming election gives us a wonderful opportunity to help even our little kids think about some of the questions that our political system addresses:
- Should school be required?
- Should our country always give money to those in trouble overseas?
- Should you have to pay to go to the dentist?
- How much should people get paid?
Realizing that the answers to these questions aren’t set in stone is a powerful realization for kids.
We also don’t want to miss the chance to support our kids as they encounter current issues. As homeschoolers, we are blessed to be there as our children confront some of our nation’s biggest struggles. This presidential election will cover everything from education reform to immigration. It’s a great time to raise these topics with your kids and have deep conversations!
A Guide to Elections in the United States
Our family has been working through A Guide to Elections in the United States of America. This free resource from Sonlight has helped us to answer tons of questions about our government, several of which we might not have even thought to ask! It has helped us talk politics with our young children.
Inside it, there are loads of activities to help families learn together about how our government works. Fun facts are strewn throughout, providing some amazing history too! You can find this valuable resource, an Election Lap Book Kit, and several other tools for learning more about the United States government at Sonlight’s Election Headquarters.