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6 Steps to Better Youth Citizenship

6 Steps to Better Youth Citizenship

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Updated on Dec 28, 2010

Kids may not have a right to vote, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion! Giving your child a forum in which to discuss current events, such the presidential elections, will set your child out on the path towards good citizenship.

And that’s why Producer/Director Ken Sheetz created the new documentary Kids Talk Politics, where eight to ten year olds from around the country are given the opportunity to voice their opinion about the presidential candidates.

Sheetz’s documentary shows that, contrary to popular belief, kids care a lot about politics and they have quite a lot to say—an interest worth developing at a young age.

Need help getting started? Sheetz suggests 6 ways to get your child jazzed about politics:

  1. Localize a national story -- show children the local impact of a national policy to illustrate that Washington politics directly influence their community and people they know. Use examples with your own family (who might have members endorsing every spot of the political spectrum) to show them that it’s ok to disagree about politics, and still like each other. Topic ideas for discussion include healthcare, the war in Iraq, oil prizes and policies, and school vouchers and choice.
  2. Take them with you to vote. Organize trips to a city council meeting, school board meeting or a political event. Sit down together and brainstorm a list of questions to bring with you, and discuss why you are voting the way you are and what issues your vote is addressing.
  3. Ask your kids' feedback regarding current issues, for example, the presidential candidates. If they disagree with you, don’t contradict them – allow them to have their own opinions and encourage them to partake in a debate. Listening will also encourage them to confide in you if they need to talk to about something really important.
  4. Go to www.kidstalkpolitics.com to show kids that their peers are engaged and thoughtful about political issues. Subscribe to Children’s News magazine, or visit websites that are geared towards children. Always give them a little edge and make them feel like their opinion matters – kids develop self-confidence when their ideas are listened to respectfull by adults. 
  5. Create games and/or trivia cards about politics and American history – make it fun and establish some kind of a rewards system to motivate them. Use visual aids: make posters with photos of the candidates and teach them their names, who they are, what they represent, etc.
  6. Hold a mock election to decide who will be president of the family for a Saturday.  As president of the family for a day the winner will get to pick whereto go for a family outing and dinner.

For more information about Kids Talk Politics or to get your child involved in the documentary, go to www.kidstalkpolitics.com

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