With the Presidential race approaching, our televisions, radios, and computer screens are filled with political ads and debates. How do you teach about politics so that elementary students can understand without getting too involved with each side?
Teach about past Presidents. By exploring the past, we can see the important decisions that Presidents have been a part of in our country’s past. By looking at the impact a particular President had on our country and the events that were directly impacted by that decision (for better or for worse), your students will get a better idea of how important the job of President of the United States of America really is. There are many resources for exploring past Presidents with your students, but here are some resources that I would especially recommend.
Teach about the voting process. Your elementary students aren’t yet able to vote in an election, but they have family members who are and they are hearing about it at home and through the media. Your students may even encourage the adults in their lives to get out and vote. Help your students understand the voting process. Who can vote? How old do you have to be? What do you have to do to register to vote? Why should we vote? Here are a couple of book resources to help you out with teaching the voting process.
Teach about the candidates. For older students, especially, they may be interested in the actual candidates. Make sure to set guidelines for conversations. Ask your students to present their beliefs using facts. Teach them to respect others’ opinions even if they don’t agree with them. Your students have likely heard strong opinions on one or both candidates in their life outside of school and should be reminded that there are always two sides to every argument. Older students can be encouraged to analyze the media. Ask them to watch two different media outlets that tend to favor opposite sides of the election. Have your students write a few paragraphs on how each side can strengthen their debate. There will undoubtedly be new vocabulary for your students in their research. Ask them to define words they hear associated with the campaign that are unfamiliar and share with the class to teach one another.
Help your students understand how important the job of President of the United States is by exploring past presidents. Dive into the voting process so that your students understand how important it is to vote and why it is a privilege that we all share today. Use this election as an opportunity to encourage them to explore both candidates to see what they really stand for and to dive deeper into the issues that are important to your students. Encourage your students to be respectful of different viewpoints and help them to see that even though you don’t always agree with someone, that person’s opinion is just as important as their own. We could always use a good reminder of the lesson of respect.
Here are a few Boom Cards that you can use in your classroom…