The Times West Virginian

November 5, 2012

Help children learn rewards of casting vote

Times West Virginian

— If you think the election season has been confusing for you, imagine how challenging the in’s and out’s of policy and pundits are for children to grasp.

With so many mixed signals out there, it is up to parents to make sure the youngest members of their families understand the responsibilities and rewards of voting.

Here are some strategies for raising politically aware kids.

• Research the competition and show why politics matters.

The same skills that are used in a job to assess an employee or co-worker’s performance level can be used to assess a candidate, and they are skills that are easy for kids to grasp.

The most difficult thing to convey to children with regard to the election is that they can’t believe everything they hear on TV or everything they read online. With so many negative ads and false rumors floating around, teach them to focus on the issues. Ask your kids which issues they think are the most important. Teach them to effectively gather information about the candidates by reading newspaper articles together, watching debates as a family, talking about political issues around the dinner table and visiting the candidates’ websites.

• Take kids to the voting booth.

A great way to help kids make the connection that we as individual citizens can have a huge impact on what happens in our country is to take them to the voting booth.

Visiting the polls provides parents with a great opportunity to talk to their children about the privilege of voting and the important role we play in the democratic process of our country. By showing enthusiasm about voting, parents can help reduce the apathy and cynicism about the political process so widespread among youth today.

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