As we head into the 2012 presidential election, have your kids been peppering you with questions such as: What’s a tea party? Can we go to a convention? Or how can I register to vote?
Do you think your kids — preteens or younger — are too young to understand the election process and its politics? Nancy Regan, who teaches social studies and Advanced Placement U.S. history at Mineola High School, says, “I think it is good to begin talking government and politics with your kids at a young age.” She adds that it is “important to keep it at their level. Start with the idea of voting and how government picks leaders etc., and build on that.”
As we are exposed to a plethora of information — from political ads to news reports to campaign propaganda — during election season, Regan says it’s natural that kids, even kindergartners, would express an interest. They are “curious.”
However, information can be complicated and confusing. But parents can break it down by explaining to kids what the issues are and how the candidates differ on the issues. For instance, with health care, “explain what Obama thinks on the issue and what Romney thinks.”
“Talking to your kids, watching the commercials and conventions, and debates together can help to teach them. Research the info together on the Internet. There are sites which explain the election process and the issues in a simplified straight forward manner,” Regan says. A few websites she recommends are:
1. Time for Kids, articles on candidates and issues
2. Race to the Ballot: The Our White House, Presidential Campaign and Election Kit for Kids
3. A list of different sites and information on Presidential elections