Teaching Preschoolers about Politics
Concepts to Explore
Young children might not have the cognitive ability to understand our complex political system, but they’re very aware of issues of justice and fairness. Talk with your young child about the role of the president: to lead our country and help make decisions. Discuss the idea that we vote for leaders who we think will do the best job. Try creating voting opportunities for your children and the whole family by holding votes on where to go out to eat, what family game to play, etc.
Civic Activities to TryYoung children readily absorb our views on democracy, political activism, and social justice, mostly through what we do and say. Take your child with you to the voting booth or political rallies. Visit historical museums and state buildings. Get involved in local issues that matter to you, such as improving schools, working on conservation efforts, or feeding the homeless. While not directly tied to politics, children learn a great deal about what you value from what you spend your time on.
Books to ReadBooks about the government are a wonderful vehicle for introducing children to politics. Read these books together to start the conversation:
- "Duck for President" by Doreen Cronin, illustrations by Betsy Lewin
- "F is for Flag" by Wendy Cheyette Lewison, illustrated by Barbara Duke
Teaching Elementary-Age Children about Politics
Concepts to ExploreElementary-age children can begin to understand political parties and their platforms. They can also learn about democracy, patriotism, and American history. At this age, children often become aware of political messaging. Talk with your children about negative political advertisements on television and social media. Share your own views and help them understand how to research the issues to separate fact from fiction.
Civic Activities to TryElementary-age children enjoy visiting the voting booth, historical museums, and state buildings, just as preschoolers do. At this age, though, children can begin to understand abstract concepts. Learning is deepened as they read and explore concepts independently. Children may begin to develop their own passions and interests around activism and volunteerism. They may be interested in attending political debates or other events.
Political Books to ReadLonger books help elementary-age children understand the political process and how the U.S. government works. We also think it’s important for children to be familiar with U.S. history and the principles of democracy. Here are a few books about politics for kids to try:
- "Bad Kitty for President" by Nick Bruel
- "Grace for President" by Kelly S. DiPucchio, illustrations by LeUyen Pham
- "Vote" by Eileen Christelow
- "A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution" by Betsy and Giulio Maestro
- "The Fourth of July Story" by Alice Dalgiesh
Learning about U.S. history and politics doesn’t have to be dry or dull. Include your child in thoughtful conversations and get involved in community events. Read high-quality children’s literature together and visit historical sites that interest you. These simple steps can help your children become civic-minded adults who embrace the political process.
More on Politics and Government:
- Election season is the perfect time to talk to your children about politics and introduce them to the voting process. Here are some first-hand accounts of parents who took their children to the polls.
- While character development can be a mix of personality, cultural expectations and level of nurturing, a parent’s role is also an important factor. Here are some simple ideas for raising children with integrity.
- While assertive and strong-willed boys are praised for expressing their opinions, girls are often called “bossy” for the same behavior. Learn why we should be praising our daughters for having “executive leadership skills” instead.
- In the day-to-day of being a busy, working parent, it can be easy to forget about the importance of teaching our children to volunteer. Get tips for teaching kids about social responsibility and ideas for simple ways to give back as a family.