In previous decades and generations, politics was a forbidden topic of conversation. However, politics has invaded everyday life, and politicians are creating laws that affect US citizens’ lives like never before. Unfortunately, you can’t always depend on the schools to educate your children about politics. You must step in and be their guide, but what do you teach?
The US Constitution is the foundation of this society and nation. In the 1800s, children as young as third grade understood the tenants of the US Constitution. They could answer questions like who has authority over ocean piracy and what did our founders mean by “unalienable rights.” Today’s children need to be educated about the Constitution and how it works. They should understand how it distributes power and why the founders set it up that way. They should also learn about the amendment process and why amendments are needed.
Children should also understand the election process. You can share this process through reading a book about becoming president. However, election years can also provide valuable learning experiences. At the beginning of the election season, you can discuss the candidate process and how they win primaries. Allow your children to join you as you research candidates and ballot initiatives. Then, consider allowing them to accompany you as you vote. Express the importance of becoming informed voters.
Don’t focus only on federal elections. State and local elections are great learning opportunities as well.
Political parties and affiliations may be confusing for children at first. They may be familiar with political party names, but they should understand what they mean. Consider going online and showing your children what each party stands for. What are their primary values? Research the laws they have passed and those they seek to pass.
Then, teach your children to separate people from parties and political offices. Although you may share your political opinions with your children, even explaining why you stand where you do, try not to force your beliefs on them, but be there to answer any questions they have about a political party or position and why individuals are loyal to those positions.
How to Seek Out Truth
The most important thing you can teach your children is to seek the truth. Teach them to be active observers and researchers. They should learn how to really listen and decode what candidates are saying because their positions and beliefs will shape the nation your child lives in. Teach them to distrust those who lie, cheat and steal.
Make politics fun by using fun games, books and other resources that encourage their engagement and understanding. Teach your children to be active citizens in their nation.