Politics have been pretty important to me for quite sometime. In high school, I was the first to raise my hand in volunteering to debate the issues. Fast forward to college and I minored in Political Science. I started off very much a staunch Republican and then steadily moved my way left as the Tea Party took control. Now, with life experience under my belt, I consider myself more of a moderate. Just as I don’t see life issues as black and white, I can’t readily color myself red or blue as I did previously.
Taking into consideration my love of politics, it seemed only natural that I would use this as a learning opportunity for the kids. Brad and I believe rather strongly in home learning in addition to school.
We got to voting early, and after I used some scrap fabric to whip up a quick sash and taught the kids about Women’s Suffrage.
I talked to the kids about how only men could vote. Women- like mommy and Vi- weren’t allowed to because people didn’t think that women were smart enough or capable enough to think for themselves. This made Marshall sad, he is a tender-hearted little guy and never likes to see people be treated as less than. His teacher has told me how little Mads sits with a child who has autism that comes into the class on occasion. He doesn’t do it because he’s told to, he does it because he doesn’t want anyone to feel left out or mistreated.
This was an important lesson for me to teach them. It may seem irrelevant now, but reality is that the chauvinistic mindset is alive and well. Just a few weeks ago, a local politician made his way out to my house in the country to talk about issues. With my husband. Only my husband. I answered the door with a smile, all too eager to discuss the issues and hear about his platform directly from the horse’s mouth. He asked “Is your husband home?” immediately upon me greeting him. I told him that Brad was unavailable (Brad was working night shifts at the time and was sleeping). The man promptly made a point to circle his phone number on a pamphlet and tell me to have my husband call him to discuss the issues, then reminded me again that he circled the number for me to tell Brad to call. Ya know, just in case my little lady brain wasn’t capable of rememberin’. This. In 2016.
So yes, it is very important to teach women’s history to the kids. Because we have come so far but still have a ways to go. Don’t worry, though, Vi is ready to take up the fight. She is our Wild Flower after all.
We did a quick run into town to checkout if the local library had any books on the election- alas, there were none that were age appropriate for my kiddos. Marshall still had a great time looking through the books though!
Once home, Brad got to work building a child-size voting booth. While he did that, I taught the kids the basics about voting. I toyed with the idea of introducing them to the real candidates and saying a few things about why people liked their candidate. Buuuuut, this election isn’t the easiest to explain so I watered it down a bit more and we simply picked animals.
I explained how we get to pick from the list of candidates (cat, dog, monkey, or rabbit) who we want to support and who we like. If you’ve been around Marshall for longer than two minutes then you have surely heard his pleas for a puppy. His choice was obvious and he quickly picked Dog. We talked about why he liked the dog. Dogs are nice, they play and it’s fun, they are fun to hug…the list went on. Yes, he was firmly team Dog. We then moved on to make posters so that everyone would know how great Dog was and that they should vote for Dog too!
Marshall and I talked about how it’s nice to talk about why you like your candidate and draw nice things. He is such a positive little guy, he decided it would be nice for him to make posters for the other candidates too so that everyone was represented on our wall. I was so impressed- I taught him how to spell the word “vote” once, after that he was able to put it on all the posters without help and without peeking at the previous ones!
We changed Vi out of her white gown so she could color without fear of ruining her nice dress. But she was eager to get back into her Suffrage attire when done. What better way to cast your vote, am I right?!
Again, major props to Brad for his super-dad skills of quickly whipping up an election booth. Three cardboard boxes, some tape, streamers, and construction paper; voila, you have yourself a fun learning tool!
I gave Marshall a ballot and explained what it was. That he was to bring the ballot and crayon in the booth and put an X next to his favorite candidate. This also doubled as a language exercise, as “ballot” is a new and difficult word for him.
Brad made a little ledge in the booth for the kids to use as a table. It made filling out their ballot so much easier. Marshall proudly announced that he was still going to vote for Dog. I praised him and also reminded him that it’s okay if you want to change your mind or if you decide to keep your vote a secret. He understood and entered the booth to make his vote.
We gave him an “I Voted” sticker and he beamed over it.
Our official election judge (Papa) carefully went over the ballots and announced that Dog won. The kids cheered and Marshall started chanting “Dog won, I won, oh yea! Oh yea!” This was a good time to teach humility and sportsmanship.
Now, all that was left was to enjoy the refreshments (cookies, brownies, orange juice for Marshall and water for Vi- no juice for her until close to age 3).
It was so much fun to teach the kids different aspects of our government and get them excited for learning. Besides the civics lesson, we also snuck spelling and speech into the mix. I hope that my children always keep these lessons in their hearts. I hope they are always so filled with pride to be Americans and that they fulfill their civic duties with joy.
As for the results of the general election at large, well, I will leave it at this:
**And about the politician who disregarded my vote; I made sure to vote for his opponent obviously. Brad woke to hear our brief conversation at the door, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing and chose to not only throw away the pamphlet without giving the call but also voted against the man who so blatantly insulted his wife.