Talking politics and the election with kids - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Talking politics and the election with kids

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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 I talked with a number of teachers, university professors and political experts who say it's never too early to start talking about it.

Signs the election is fast approaching can be seen and heard just about everywhere.

That includes this 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's using books, posters and other interactive activities to help the kids learn.

Wambold says to her students, "So, 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.

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

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

They leave that to the parents.

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