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Quick tips on raising politically savvy kids

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• Ignite their interest. Most children have an interest in politics but it must be consistently nurtured through family dialogue and various resources.

• Start simple. Talk about leaders and authority figures in your home and community. Discuss the concept of responsibility. Show your child pictures of those in the political spotlight and discuss what form of leadership he holds. Discuss what they are learning in government or history class. This is all part of a scaffolding process that introduces concepts and can be built upon over time.

• Reason with relevance. Talk about how government affects your child’s life right now through everyday things — regulations on items he uses or money needed for places he frequents, such as parks and libraries.

• Lean on literature. Use juvenile literature such as biographies, historical, and fiction works as springboards for discussions and to hone his understanding of governmental affairs.

• Utilize worthwhile websites. Political and civic-oriented websites designed for children have information and activities to teach kids about government and current affairs.

• Network with the news. Watch the news and political debates and read the newspaper aloud, then discuss it together. Explain political cartoons and encourage your child to create his own cartoons based on issues important to him.

• Motion for movies. Teens can develop some political concepts through movies, such as “All the President’s Men” or “1776.”

• Challenge to change. Teach your child that when things happen he has the ability to affect change. Identify neighborhood problems, such as a littered park, and talk about what he can do to change it.

• Rally with letter writing. Encourage your child to write letters to local, state, and national politicians about issues of concern. Children usually receive a letter in return — particularly from local and state officials — and this will encourage them to continue their efforts.

• Make a mock event. Encourage school and extracurricular groups to organize mock elections and hold mini debates, as this introduces political concepts.

• Design day trips. Take trips to state and national historical and governmental sites. If possible, make prior arrangements to meet with representatives. Have your child make a list of questions to ask officials before leaving home.

• Practice at the polls. Take your child with you to vote. This will familiarize him with voting processes.

• Value volunteering. Participate in community family volunteer opportunities throughout the year and during campaign time. Parents and children can help with neighborhood mailings, drop off literature, distribute buttons, or put up campaign signs.

• Early election encounters. Encourage your child to run for school or class office. This will give him a jump start on leadership roles and is a tangible way to teach him about the campaigning process.

• Be consistent. Studies show that parents who regularly discuss political issues with their kids have a better chance of raising politically minded children.

• Mentor and model. Let your child see you reading the newspaper, watching the news, being active in civic volunteering, and voting. Unspoken modeling has a lasting effect.

Updated 4:31 pm, July 9, 2018
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