Election Talk - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Election Talk

You have to be 18 to vote, but many say the earlier you start talking to kids about the political process and the presidential election, the better.

It may seem tricky to talk politics with your 5 or 6 year old, but we talked with a number of teachers, university professors and political experts who say it's never too early to start talking about it.

So, here's how one teacher is doing it, and why it's so important.

Signs the election is fast approaching can be seen and heard, just about everywhere, and that includes a first and second grade classroom at Franklin Elementary in Madison.

Teacher Beth Wambold says "We're doing a lot, we're taking a couple of field trips, we're meeting with the county clerk, and going all over the place and learning all about it between September and November."

She talking about the basics of the election process in a number of ways, using books, posters and other interactive activities.

She says to the class, "I'm going to give each of you a state with the number of electoral votes and your job is to get in order from smallest to largest."

As the kids work to get in the right order, Wambold points out teaching about the election process covers a number of subject areas.

"We're learning about the states. We tie in geography.  We tie in math.  We tie in literature. Across the curriculum to teach about the election."

Educators and political experts alike, say these lessons go well beyond the classroom.

Diana Hess with the UW School of Educations says, "One of the things we know is that young people are more likely to participate if they understand the elections, if they understand the issues."

Not only are they more willing to vote, research shows they're also more likely to volunteer and engage in community service.

Dr. Peter levine the author of "The Future of Democracy" says bring your kids to the polls with you on election day.

"I think some 18-year-olds are actually intimidated by being afraid that when they walk in, they won't know what the right thing to do is, and it will be embarrassing.", says Dr. Levine.

So as this years election draws near, teachers are certainly talking about it in school, and it's a good idea for parents to talk about it at home as well.

The educators we talked with said while they talk about the issues, they never let their opinion be known.

They leave that to the parents.

Next week on the parenting project, there are a number of great books out there on this subject for young kids.

We'll get you a list of those books and show you how to really involve your kids in the story.


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