We’re a fairly (read massively) opinionated lot in our house, and what is going on the world is usually discussed at length at any opportunity we get. As you can imagine with the sudden decision to hold a snap election in the UK there is a lot of opportunity for debate right now.
But how do you explain all of this to a child? Personally I think its vitally important that they understand that politics affects everyone, but where do you start? With a general election usually only held every 5 years, sometimes its hard to put things into context, ,so now is a great time to introduce ideas as so much is in the news.
Something that does concern me is how much my views will cloud my child’s judgement. My house wasn’t a place for political discussion when I was growing up. With the old adage of never talk about politics or religion I found myself a little adrift when thrust into debates when I was 16. I will always remember my first day of 6th form when someone asked me who I would vote for and why. I had no idea and decided to start getting a little more informed. I started to ensure I read a “proper” newspaper at the weekend to understand more of what was going on and to be able to back up my opinions (which was one thing, I had been taught to do!)
Fast forward a few years and the wealth of information available is vast so where do you start? Here’s what we’re looking at right now:
- Why is it important to vote? We’ve been looking at who is entitled to vote and whether its always been that way. It seems quite alien to children to find out just how unfair the UK was a short while ago, and how equality for all still has a long way to go.
- What can voting affect? You can talk about money for schools, hospitals and doctors, and public services like the library. All accessible and relevant to a child.
- The environment. This is one that usually strikes a chord with children. You can explain how investment can be made into different methods of power and why this affects how people may want to vote. Who is going to look after the planet and all the life within it.
- Explain the history of the different parties. This can tie in with the point above, for example years ago there wasn’t a Green Party, the need has arisen due to societal and environmental changes.
A lot of this can be explained whilst out and about in your local environment. Can they notice changes that have happened in their lifetime? Personally we’ve had our local surgery privatised and homelessness in our city rise massively. All quite visual changes.
If you’ve a child aged 8-14 you might like to try The Week Junior. With succinct writing in manageable sized articles, it’s a great starting place for children to learn independently of their parents political ideals.
We’ve also been looking at resources from Twinkl. Always quick to provide new resources when needed, there are some excellent ideas on how to ensure your children are educated on what an election entails.
Finally, I do think its important to explain the need for sensitivity when talking about politics. B did have a habit of asking people which “colour” they voted for when he was younger and proceeded to tell them which way he thought they should vote. No idea where he got that from….honest!