High school aged children are making decisions that will impact their entire lives. They are so smart – and they are getting their election related information already through school, television, and most often, social media. The BEST place to talk about this is at home where you can help with an unbiased understanding of the issues and the candidates. Because there is SO MUCH information (and misinformation) available online, parental involvement is key. Don’t let your kids choose candidates based on BuzzFeed quizzes – make sure they have an understanding of the issues.
Approximately 4 million current high school students will be eligible to vote on Election Day in 2016!
- Parents must be prepared for their children to challenge beliefs and offer something totally different on key issues and candidates.
- Ask questions
- Accept their answers
- Challenge with love and with guiding questions, not opposition
- Accept their differences and ask them to come back and discuss again
- Love them. NO matter what, this is what will make them continue to check in with you.
Activities and Resources
- Think the Vote
- What is the difference between a primary and a caucus? What is a swing state? Where do the candidates stand on the issues? Think the Vote is a one stop election resource!
- Primaries and Caucuses – Lead by example. Take your kids with you! Let them be part of the process.
- Dinner Table Talks for Middle and High School Students
- When talking to your kids about the election, keep it positive. Don’t get angry if their opinions differ from yours, find out why. Set up an open environment for discussion where they know, even if you disagree, their opinion is welcome and where they are willing to listen to why YOU disagree.
- Remind them that we aren’t just having a presidential election – there are state and local elections too – and you can show them even closer what that process looks like and what it means to be involved.
- Televised Debates and Town Halls
- Watch one of the debates with your child. What issues are they most interested in talking about? Which of the candidates do they like best and why? If they were paying attention to the election before the debate, did watching it change any of their opinions on the issues or the candidates?
- Political Cartoons
- Find age appropriate political cartoons. What do they mean? How can items like this impact elections or public perception?
- Campaign Advertisements
- Talk through the concept of propaganda and why candidates use these ads. What does your child like or dislike about them? If they were going to make a political advertisement, what would they say?
- Electoral College
- How does it work? Use an interactive electoral college map to show how different states impact elections. The National Archives has a map where you can go play with past elections and will update it for the 2016 cycle once candidates are selected – and will let you make family predictions before Election Day! You can make it a competition for who gets the closest to the actual totals.
- Who could be President?
- Take celebrities and their ages, and see if your kids know who is old enough or meets the requirements to be president!
- Campaign Platforms
- What does your child believe in? What is important to them? What are they most concerned about as they prepare for their future? Have them create their own list of issues and a platform and then compare it to the candidates’ platforms.
- KidsVoting USA