Getting kids involved in elections can happen without anxiety, says Marie Heath, an assistant professor of education at Loyola University Maryland.
Indeed, kids can “shape the world they live in and make it better,” says Heath, who researches online and offline civic engagement. Believing they matter is what she hopes for her students and her own kids, ages 12, 10 and 8.
First, find out what your kids care about it, she says. The environment could be one example. Then encourage your children to find out how this year’s candidates feel about climate change, for example.
Ask your children what they would like to hear from the candidates on these issues. Then they can go directly to the candidates’ websites to find out what they have said or written. If they can’t find this information, kids can write the candidate themselves.
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They also can share what they’ve found with their friends. And they can be responsible news consumers.
When her 8-year-old son pointed out that he can’t vote, Heath told him, to his surprise, that he is still a citizen — “It’s not something that magically happens when you turn a certain age” — and that he has an opportunity and obligation to get involved.
“It’s important to help kids feel that they can make a difference,” she says.