06 November 2012

Teaching My Children about the Importance of Voting

Since my two boys were very young they have joined me at the polls each election.  I believe it’s important for me to model the responsibilities of being a citizen in our country.  This year they selected to stay home and play soccer (the 9 year old) or Minecraft  (the 11 year old) rather than join me at the polls, but their education around voting has not gone awry.  In fact my 6th grader followed the presidential debates with me, and he had his own opportunity to vote at his middle school’s mock election.  The results of Beaumont Middle School’s election will be announced tomorrow after the results of the real election are finalized.

This year I volunteered to help man the polls at the mock election and it was exciting to see all 6th-8th graders with smiling faces exercise their right to vote in the mock election.  Many students voted a straight ticket and others scrolled through the list of candidates, carefully making each selection.  It was rewarding to greet a handful of the sixth graders I knew by name, to explain the voting instructions to everyone, and to hand each adolescent a sticker, thanking him/her for voting.

Obviously, since I work for the school system, we are not permitted to promote any particular candidate while on school time or property because the goal is to teach children to make informed and responsible decisions.  Since they are too young to vote in the real election, mock elections are a great way to teach students about their rights and responsibilities.  It’s also another great opportunity to teach them higher order thinking (H.O.T) skills that will help them throughout their lives.  Making a choice about a candidate requires us to think carefully and consider all the evidence for our decisions.
My fourth grader has also been involved this year because he has participated in household discussions about the election and our favorite candidate.   He stopped playing soccer with the neighborhood friend long enough to inquire about where I was going and to ask upon my return if he could see my “I Voted” sticker.  This led to another discussion with my 9 year old and his neighborhood friend about keeping our fingers crossed today for our favorite candidate to win.  Most of all, I can relax knowing I did my part, and I modeled for my children the importance of voting.