One great way to introduce children to the concept of voting and to our democratic government is to hold a mock election. Today both the junior high and elementary schools that my children attend held mock elections. The junior high students all filed down to a room set-up with private voting booths and checked off the candidate they most preferred for president. President Obama was re-elected with 444 votes compared to Romney’s 308.
In targeting the younger set at the elementary school, they did not vote for a candidate but instead a costume for the principal to wear. As a reward for large student participation in a summer skills program, the principal agreed to wear a costume for the day. Students had the choice of a chipmunk, duck, frog or Eeyore costume. The polls closed with the chipmunk costume as the clear winner.
Parents can use the election for so many teachable moments. You can talk about political parties, the branches of government, and how the Electoral College works. The over-abundance of political advertisements can provide a basic lesson in truth in advertising and the concept that there are two sides to every story.
I came across a very helpful article from SheKnows Parenting. The PBSkids website had a very cute poster about the candidates that is appropriate for the very young children. For more ideas on talking about politics with your child, see Parents.
What did your child's school do to teach about the election process? How do you spend election night with your children? Please comment, tweet and share your ideas. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.