With early voting beginning today in North Carolina and less than three weeks until the election, now is a great time to teach your children about the voting process and the election. How? Take them to vote! (Click here for a list of voting sites and hours.)
Now, taking my kids to the grocery store is a painful process, so why would I want to take them to a polling site where there may be long lines and a lack of any fun? Because I want them to know how important voting really is. Here are 4 reasons why:
1- You are modeling good citizenship responsibility and duty.
Kids need to know that voting is a right and a privilege that doesn’t extend to many countries in the world, but is afforded to citizens of the United States. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
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2 - It opens the door to explaining democracy.
Voting gives everyone the same amount of power and every vote is equal. Let’s face it, most households aren’t run as a democracy with every family member getting equal say, so the concept may be unfamiliar to young children. Point out that young or old, rich or poor, tall or short....every vote counts the same.
3 - It teaches them to wait.
Unlike the grocery store line, where free cookies and a selection of candy are on hand, the line at a voting site may be long and boring. But it helps children understand the importance of the process. Grab some snacks, books, and small games, and let them wait.
4 - Voting reinforces "the three Rs" - respect, responsibility, and resilience."
Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a speaker on parenting and youth development, points out that sharing the voting process with children helps reinforce respect for people with different opinions, responsibility as a citizen, and resilience if your candidate loses.
So grab a stroller, take their hands, and head out with your kids to vote, But keep in mind this teachable moment shouldn’t be caught on camera. Taking photos of a voted ballot is prohibited so save your selfie with your child for post-ballot casting.