The kids were off from school today, as they are each year the first Tuesday in November. I’m sure they think Election Day is grand – it offers them another day to count their Halloween candy, play in the yard, and roll around in the leaves before the crisp air turns downright cold. But I wonder just how many of those kids and even teens “celebrating” Election Day understand the privilege, obligation, and sheer honor that it is to cast a vote and participate in the democratic process.
So how about we raise kids who are engaged in the process?! In honor of Election Day we bring you Tuesday’s Top Ten: Raising Dutiful Citizens…
- Use the language of democracy. Let the kids “elect” family “representatives.” Create family “laws.” Instead of letting everyone have “a say,” let everyone “vote” on Saturday’s breakfast. Your home may not exactly be a democracy, but using the language of one will help kids understand their role as a citizen.
- Model good citizenship. Share with your kids why you obey speed limits, participate in school board meetings, and especially vote.
- Take your kids to the polls! Discuss the responsibility citizens have to vote. Let your children know that once upon a time, only certain men were allowed to vote and throughout the world the right to vote is one that is highly valued.
- Exercise your rights, especially the first amendment, and let your children know how blessed we are to live in a country where we can speak our minds, petition our government, or vote for officials.
- Discuss current events with your family. Whether those events are local, national, or global, let your children see you evaluating news stories, sharing opinions, and debating issues that impact our lives.
- Tap into living history by talking to grandparents, neighbors, or veterans. Children love story telling, and many older Americans will relish the opportunity to talk about their lives as voters. These stories make some lasting impressions, especially if you talk with a citizen who remembers life before desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement.
- Boost civic pride by participating in a local parade, a neighborhood cleanup, or building a new playground. Investment in “politics” can begin very close to home and grow along with your children.
- Read books for children on the subject of patriotism. There’s a wealth of choices, some of which you can find right here.
- Visit the nation’s capital. Designed and built with the intention of intimidating foreign governments with our nation’s grandeur, Washington, D.C. brings our democracy to life, and an overwhelming number of awe-inspiring attractions are open to the public at no cost. It’s hard not be impressed by our nation’s beautiful, beautiful capital.
- Celebrate patriotic holidays with more than a hot dog. Do your kids know the meaning of each of our country’s national holidays? How Veteran’s Day is different from Memorial Day or exactly what we celebrate on the 4th of July each year? Use each day off to share your pride and instill a bit of history into the future leaders of our great nation.