Elementary and middle school students may be too young to cast their vote, but that doesn’t mean they are too young to start learning how important each individual vote is and this opportunity only comes once every four years!
This controversial election season is in full swing and while it may seem unappealing to incorporate the different candidates into your lesson plans, this is the prime time to expose children to democracy in America. On a deeper turn, this election opens the opportunity to emphasize moral lessons.
If you are questioning whether or not you can, or should, incorporate the 2016 Election into your lesson plans– PikMyKid has the solution. It is more of a disservice to ignore the election than it is to address it. Creating a broader understanding of the election instead of a focus specifically on the candidate’s, your students have a greater potential of grasping long-lasting foundational material that they will carry to the ballot later on down the road.
It is every citizen’s duty to vote
While your students will be waiting quite a few years to vote, they should grasp the importance of casting a vote. Making your students feel like their voice can make a difference at a young age can set a precedent for their voting patterns when they are able to cast their ballot.
Value student input
Set the stage for a mock election on a smaller scale, for something like “student of the week,” or “line leader.” Allow the students to vote on who they think has exceeded classroom expectations. Emphasizing individual student input will create an excitement across the room that encourages everyone to get involved.
Actively engage the students
If students are going to follow through with their civic duties later in life, they have to see correlation that makes an impact. By practicing a mock election, or even anonymous questionnaires for student input, students will feel empowered; their voice will mean something. This is a theory that will stick with them throughout their future.
There is a value to opposing opinions
Without stepping on the language of this election or a specific candidate, you can teach students how their rhetoric can impact others. By creating a mock election, the question why should I choose this over this is brought to the table. Students have the opportunity to explore their personal decision making process, allowing them to acknowledge and analyze their reasoning behind other decisions they make.
Democracy is fundamental to America
There is no better way to start teaching the works of democracy than modeling it in a classroom. By helping students how democracy works and how it shaped America, in more than just a history lesson, they can begin to discover what it means “proud to be an American.” Focus on the highlights of this election– not the negative.
Strength is good, too much power is not
We know America as the strongest nation there is, we are free and we strive for progress every day. By teaching your students about America’s power and how our president and government interact to form relationships with other countries, you set the stage to incorporate the important lesson that America is respected based on its strong government but not overpowering foreign control. Students can reflect on the idea that those that are the most respected are those who are the most respectful.
Our students are our future
We should not shelter students from the fickleness of elections. If there is going to continue towards societal change and inclusion, as a country and within the school systems, our students need to gain exposure to a basis of the inside workings of American politics. They do not need to walk away being able to analyze the electoral battleground map, but they should at least grasp the concept and importance of voting as a right that we have fought for as a country.
Use the election to enlighten your students and give them a voice. Happy election day!