Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teaching Your Kids About Presidental Elections

Homeschool parents may be a small minority, but they've shown they can make a big difference when it comes to politics. After all, it was a passionate homeschool community that helped push a presidential candidate to a surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses four years ago. Making phone calls, knocking on doors, emailing, and persuading neighbors to get out and vote, these homeschool volunteers understood how to network to get the job done.

According to Michael Farris, chairman of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, many homeschoolers have become involved in the world of politics simply because they had no other choice.

"The establishment tried to take away our freedom," he said, "and we became a political force because we had to protect ourselves."

As Christian homeschooling parents, it's important to take an active part in politics ourselves, but we also need to teach our children how to make a positive effect on government with godly values and a Christian worldview. What can you do during the 2012 campaign to nurture a lifelong interest of politics in your children's lives? Here are a few suggestions:

For Younger Grades

    • Observe President's Day on February 18 and teach your children about voting, elections, and presidents as you read stories and make crafts relating to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other famous presidents.

    • Use the democratic process in family decision making. Decisions about where to eat or what video to watch can involve a homeschool election ballot and voting box.

    • Take a field trip with your children to the polling place when you vote. Show them the polling booth and how it works. Build anticipation as you tell them, "When you're older, you'll get to do this, too!"
For Older Grades

    • Educate your children with a solid understanding of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government, as well as the history and development of current political parties.

    • Stir debate around the family table and ask your children's opinions about today's tough issues.

    • Discuss public policies that affect your family directly and show your children how to express themselves and listen to opposing views. Let them know that it's okay to hold a different viewpoint than Dad or Mom.

    • Get involved in the political process. Have your children attend caucuses, primaries, and political rallies. Let them participate in phone call surveys, fundraisers, and campaign promotions for their preferred presidential candidate.

    • Encourage communication with current and future political leaders. Have your children write state and federal representatives with questions and comments about important issues, especially those that affect homeschooling.

    • Take your children to city council and state legislature meetings. Familiarize them with the process of how a bill becomes a law.

    • Watch campaign debates on TV, read newspaper articles, and take advantage of media coverage in regard to the voting process. Explain the power of their vote and how it should not be taken lightly. Also, teach them where and how to register to vote when they turn 18.
Remember, children's attitudes toward politics are most influenced by their parents. From the time they are young, they either observe your active, positive involvement or your lack of concern and apathy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one third of eligible voters chose not to vote in the 2008 presidential election. Making a difference in federal, state, and local government takes people who care enough to get involved. Will your homeschool family make a difference in 2012?

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