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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Get Your Kids Involved



I am not ashamed to admit that I use my children as my personal billboards. After all, they wear the Polo horse, my alma maters, Mac Daddy's favorite football team, global warming garb, and Disneyland attire. Why is a political shirt any different? The boys are a reflection of us, in actions, values, beliefs, words, grace, looks, hardheadedness, mannerisms, and overall constitution.

Since my boys were babies I have taken them, swaddled in the stroller, to walk to the polling station. They each wore a bib that read "Mommy loves me too much to vote Republican." They also have donkey shirts and Yes We Can shirts. And you know what? They wear them with pride. We make quite a sight with them in their shirts, Mac Daddy sporting the donkey, and me in my Obama Mama shirt.

My point here is this: We are involving our children in politics. We have been reading Duck for President since before Obama stepped foot at a primary pedestal. We vote for what to have for dinner, where to spend our Sunday mornings, ice cream or popsicles and other such incidentals time to time. My kindergartener has kids voting at his school. My preschooler knows all the candidates by logo and face. Don't get me wrong, I will be devastated if my boys think rebellion means turning into Alex P. Keaton. But Mac Daddy and I are trying our damndest to teach Bird and Deal about our political systems, our rights, our freedom, our responsibilites, our priviledges.

Caroline, my soul sister whom I am convinced was separated at birth from me (pshaw to the many years between us!), wrote a lovely post about this very topic. It would behoove you to read it.

In case your thumb is sore from too much clicking, I'll also copy and paste it here. I don't think Caroline will sue me.

Ways to Involve Your Kids in This Election
There are only a few weeks left until we vote for our next President. Along with many other parents and citizens, I am nervous but hopeful about election day. But in the midst of all of this political chatter, how much do your children really understand about our upcoming election? Do they know who our candidates are? Do they understand our priveledge and right to vote? Would you even know how to engage them in a conversation about the election? I certainly wasn’t very sure, so I went hunting for some resources - and I would like to share them with all of you.

Now, what inspired me to look for these election resources exactly? The other morning I took a stab at explaining this election to my 5 year old. We were watching some highlights of an Obama rally on CNN. My son was clearly thrilled that I had not switched over to Playhouse Disney. To try and peak his interest some I said “Do you know who that is?” “No.” His bored tone told me he was anxious to learn more. “Well, let me tell you.” I tried to explain what our president does, who the candidates were and how I will be voting on election day. Blank look. So I simply said to him, “Do you know what you should call me? An ‘Obama Mama’.” Finally a smile and then a giggle. “Obama Mama! That’s silly! Obama Mama, Obama Mama, Obama Mama. … Can I have some Kix?”

This wasn’t this first time I have tried to explain the election to my son. Granted, he is only 5. He is simply trying to figure out the politics of kindergarten - certainly, our complex presidential election may be a bit out of reach still. But it got me thinking. What resources are there for parents with children interested in learning more about the election? If you have been trying to engage your children, check out the following sites. My son might be a little young still, but yours may not be!

PBS Kids, The Democracy Project: PBS does a fantastic job of putting together a fun, interactive website where kids can learn about becoming a president for a day and how our government works. It also allows kids to get into the voters booth and share what issues matter to them.

Kids Voting USA: While more of a website for teachers, it offers election information for children in grades ranging from K-12.

Scholastic.com: Scholastic does a wonderful job with their election website. Kids can vote for president, meet the candidates, read campaign news, read blogs written by kids, or even launch their own campaign for president.

Brain Pop: Looking for a straight forward video to explain the election to your kids? Check this site out.

TIME for kids: TIME magazine has a fun website with campaign games, information about the issues and even some pretty cool kid reporters sharing their own campaign experiences.

Would you like to make this election real for your kids and put together your own election and voting booth? Visit “ABC Teach” to find ballots, worksheets and directions to make your own voting booth.

The White House: The White House website offers further information for kids about our past presidents, the White House itself and even the presidential pets. Maybe you feel like coloring a president? Get out your crayons and print some of them out here!

Rock the Vote: And for your older children, sit them down to Rock the Vote. MTV makes it cool to get involved with this election.

Finally, I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read: “Kids Don’t Vote, but Moms Do!” (If you want one, please visit Momsrising.org.) That statement truly inspired me. Our children and their futures matter. However, as moms, we carry the responsibility to be their only advocates. And during this election, it is no different. Our children count on us to elect their leader. Please don’t forget to register yourself to vote. And then, consider bringing your child to vote with you - what better way to learn about this historical election than to have them truly experience it for themselves!


Caroline's post is cross posted at Type A Mom.
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3 comments:

The Over-Thinker said...

I think what you're doing is extremely wise and admirable. When we have babies, we'll need to get some of those bibs!

Ilina said...

I will totally send you all by parapheanalia. Good grief, it's too late to spell.

Caroline said...

Rock the vote, baby. And rock the blog love - so glad you shared this with your readers!