Childen may not be old enough to vote, but it's never too early to get them involved in an election season and help them understand what elections mean.
Just ask Elizabeth Deanna Morris Lakes. She's been taking her 4-year-old son, Elliott, to the polls since he was born.
“Every election since he was six weeks old, we've taken Elliott with us to vote,” the Washington, D.C.-area mom told TODAY Parents. “This year, we were able to explain voting was ‘choosing our leaders.’ We made sure to take him to the ballot box with us, though it was admittedly less exciting.”
Morris Lakes said talking to idealistic young children about the election doesn’t have to be political.
“Explaining our election process isn't complicated, but it is important and necessary,” she said. “My child should understand the system that governs where we live early because he's living in it too.”
Here are five activities for any parent seeking a kid-friendly approach to the 2020 presidential election:
1. Make a red, white and blue snack
Get the kids in the kitchen with Siri Daly’s Patriotic Marshmallow Pops. The mom of four said, “This recipe is fun, festive and simple for kids to follow.”
2. Try a real-time coloring sheet
If your kids understand the political party system, let them stay up a little bit past their bedtime on election night to color in states on a U.S. map in red or blue as poll results come in. They’ll likely head to bed before the final results are tallied, so have them make a prediction based on what they've seen so far.
3. Read a book
Books can be an ideal starting point in helping kids to understand elections and voting. “V Is For Voting” by Kate Farrell or “The Night Before Election Day” by Natasha Wing are good options for young readers that dive into democracy, the presidency and the way voting works.
4. Do some voting at home
If your kids have an interest in learning how the polls work, create an at-home poll, complete with ballots and a ballot box. Have them vote on topics that are important to them, like "what’s for dinner," and when the results are in, explain the process of tallying votes to determine a winner.
5. Get immersed in an interactive guide
For older children who want to dig a little deeper, consider introducing them to The Election Collection, a comprehensive resource by PBS. This interactive guide covers all facets of elections — the history, why they happen, how voting works, and even current issues for today’s election.
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