Thursday, October 4th, 2012
How do you raise children to be knowledgeable about politics and the upcoming election in an age appropriate way?
Joanne Bamberger, parent, author, and new media expert who specializes in the political involvement in women and mothers on PunditMom, says that there are many different ways to get kids involved. Her best selling book, Mothers of Intention: How Women & Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, features a chapter titled Raising Political Children where she encourages parents to make politics a family affair.
Bamberger believes that attending political events together, hosting a family debate party, or discussing politics around the dinner table to explore issues that are important to your family are great ways to engage kids of all ages. She also thinks that online games and website content strengthen the knowledge of children by allowing them to synthesize information and explore issues on their own.
“Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wanted to help today’s generation of children become more engaged in civic life so she created a website called iCivics.” says Bamberger “In addition to various materials on the site that teachers can use in the classroom, iCivics has a variety of interactive games for kids of different ages to teach them about voting, how our system of government works, and even lead their own virtual country to see what it takes to be a leader.”
In addition to iCivics, Bamberger also suggests the following 4 sites to teach kids about the election, candidates, and how voting works.
- Time for Kids— “This is a good one for kids old enough to be following the election because it talks in more specifics about the candidates (vs just the process) and features kids actually covering the news,” Bamberger reports. “I especially like the section on the issues, because sometimes it’s hard for us parents to find ways to talk about things like the economy and taxes in a way our tweens and early teens can really understand.”
- ZOOM the Vote from PBS Kids— There are many sites that are reporting election news but unlike other sites, Bamberger says ZOOM the Vote “gives kids an explanation of something many sites don’t — why your vote actually matters.”
- The Democracy Project on PBS Kids— Although Bamberger admits that the site is a little dated since there is still information about the 2008 election, she finds the section on “How Does the Government Effect Me” relevant for jaded middle schoolers who be asking why they should care about this election.
- Scholastic Kids Press Corps Blog— “Scholastic, as always, has great resources to help kids understand out electoral process,” states Bamberger. “I like this one because it features a blog with actual students who got to cover the conventions and write about what they thought about the process, without all that talking head shouting nonsense we so often see on TV.”
Thanks to Joanne Bamberger for her willingness to be interviewed and share her favorite websites for kids. Mothers of Intention image courtesy of Joanne Bamberger. Two elementary girls laying on their bellies while holding American flags via Shutterstock