What started out as just a fun school thing to do has turned into a tradition in our family that has captured the attention of my older kids. They now love to watch debates and they seek to understand. (We are on our 4th mock election.)
Sometimes our mock elections are family only and other times we have invited other families to join the fun. 4 years ago we had 36 vote...ages 3-17!
Prior to voting:
The kids had to register to vote, then they were sent their voter card (which they had to have when they showed up at the poll...our front door), they were given a list of issues they would be voting on with their card. (Gives them opportunity to be an informed voter...if they seize the moment!) Parents could not just give the kids the answers...it was up to the kids to seek it out. Although if the child asked you a question you could answer them.
Once they arrive they are first checked in by the election worker, they are then shown the voting booth and where to drop their ballot when they are finished. No voting booth is complete without an "I voted sticker". Next up...pizza party! Home schooling at its best!
Day after the real elections:
The results are emailed to the parents to share with their families. The fun is the mock elections but the educating is up to the individual families!
One year abortion passed on our ballot. When we read what that meant the kids were shocked because that wasn't what they meant. We nearly had a child in tears understanding they chose to kill an unborn child. When we discussed it they realized they didn't know what the word meant and just guessed. That guess was a gamble they were sorry they took. Let's just say most of my kids have not made that same mistake. (education at its best!)
We try to use words that are common during elections knowing most our children have no idea what that word means. But later when we break it all down and talk about it...they then learn the importance of knowing what you are voting on.
Our mock elections have created a hunger for the real elections. Our kids get so excited when they hear there will be a real Presidential debate. How often do you have 12 year olds asking when the debate will be because they don't want to miss it? My kids are not big political kids...they just like being in the KNOW...and casting a vote. The day of elections they have a picture of the united states and begin coloring in the states as they come across the news stations...anxiously awaiting to see if their candidate won. This year we will have 2 kids that get to do the REAL thing! They have opportunity to cast a vote for their future and they are anxious and willing to exercise their freedom to VOTE!
I challenge you to do a mock election for your kids...what starts out as fun can turn into a huge education moment when they turn 18!
- ages 4-6 it is all about coloring in the circles and coloring in the states
- ages 8-10 they are pretty excited to know they know the names they keep hearing on the T.V./radio
- ages 12-14 they eagerly anticipate hearing the candidates and understanding some of the issues they know they will be voting on
- ages 16-18 they are sold...their vote counts...they seek to make a difference