A few weeks ago, we read a book that mentioned a president. Something made me ask my kids the name of our president. The responses ranged from “Washington, D.C.” to “Dr. King.” After about ten guesses, one student finally said, “Barack Obama.” While my students may be too young to vote, they’re not too young to be affected by the impending election.
As adults, we’re in unique positions where kids are watching our every move. Seriously, I forget how closely they’re watching until I overhear my students playing teacher; my kids even have my mannerisms down. Since children are impressionable, I feel the need to express the importance of fulfilling my civic duty without compelling my students to adopt my beliefs. Instead, I think it’s important that we expose them to as much useful and neutral information as possible. I’m especially moved to do that this year when we have a candidate who spouts lines like, “Our inner cities are a disaster…they have no education, they have no jobs.” So, here are a few tried and tested ways to talk to your students about voting.
I plan to wear my, “I Voted” sticker on my face tomorrow. My kids are infatuated with stickers; I don’t understand it, but I plan to use it to my advantage. I know my kids will be drawn to the sticker, which will lead to tons of questions.
Talk About It
It’s okay to talk to children about the election. In fact, I tell them that I like to make informed decisions so talking about it will help them be informed. Talking about it will look different for parents and teachers. As a teacher, I am very careful not to push my beliefs on my students. Still, provide information, answer questions, and encourage them to talk with their parents.
Rock the Vote
Lead by example. Take your kids to the poll. During the primary election, I ran into a student from my first year of teaching at my polling place. It was great to see her there, watching her mother cast a vote. Children often follow our lead, so why not set an example of casting a vote. I still remember going to the polling place with my mom as a kid; it’s something that sticks with you.
Rock the Vote, Again
Tomorrow I’ll be reading Duck for President, which has proven to be a hit for eight years running. My students will then vote on measures like, extra recess, pizza toppings since we recently earned a pizza party – you know, important stuff.
Another good read if time permits, Grace for President. Then you can have your kids cast a vote for the candidate (Grace or Duck) of their choice. If you choose to read this book alone, it can be used to discuss the significance of “A girl president,” as Grace calls it in the book.
Okay, that’s all I have for now. Even though we gained an hour, daylight savings time is not my friend right now. Plus, I still need to get ready for my job, which just so happens to entail educating “The African Americans” and “The Latinos” in an inner city. Note: Please read “the” with extreme sarcasm.
So, whether you’re #WithHer or looking to get #Trumped, happy voting,
Marissa’s Teachable Moments
2 thoughts on “Teach the Vote”
Great post Marissa. Just don’t forget to help your students realize Grace should get there by her merits (how much pizza per person, what choices of pizza are available, etc) and not on the simple fact that she is a woman or a woman of color.
Thanks for reading, Colleen! The discussion focused on the changes that Grace wanted to see in the school. We then compared Grace to a character from a book we’d read earlier this year.