American Civics: Teaching Your Children to Vote


By Christine Bullock

It is that time of year again when ballots arrive by mail in Oregon and decisions are made about a variety of politicians and measures. We Oregonians are blessed by a venue of voting that allows us to literally show our children how Americans vote. Talk about a homeschooling opportunity not to miss! Open up those ballots and start covering American Civics at the kitchen table. 

“Civic responsibility begins with voting,” my police chief father told me while I was young.  History, and the part my family had played in it, was dinner table discussion. Voting was viewed as a privilege that should be exercised, generation after generation.  People planned ahead to carve time out of normal routines to vote because it mattered.  I fondly remember the community spirit that occurred every second Tuesday in November.  People from all over gathered, kids and parents, in the small assembly room.  Parents disappeared behind curtained cubicles while children looked forward to the day they could join in the process.  Today voting with my children looking on at the kitchen table gives them a sense of the high value I place on the process as well.

“Insult no man, debate the issues,” was another axiom my parents imparted. Only lousy debaters attack personally.  There is a reason why is it called “mudslinging” and “dirty campaigning.”  My dad was big on communication skills. He expected his children to know how to communicate intelligently without falling back on name calling. Honoring the position rightly, even if in disagreement with the person in the position, is God’s way. My parents never hesitated to tell me how they voted.  They explained why they made the choices they did, but they spoke with respect of those who did not see things the same way. 

Vote your values. My parents did their homework beforehand.  They came prepared to make wise choices. Today this plays out with me getting equipped with a several voter’s guides that explain issues, and voting records.  I pull them out and show my children boxes and graphs, pros and cons.  Not only do they learn to read data more efficiently, but they also become familiar with the “language” used by politicians to manipulate voters. The mailbox is full of mailers of would- be leaders and positional statements on measures.  Pull a few out and explain how mass marketing works politically.  Your students will be much wiser when the time comes for them to make their own voice heard through their vote.

One of the chief blessings of homeschooling is the chance to live our lives side by side with our kids.  Sitting at the table with pen and ballot is just one more thing easily done to make a lifelong impression. Take the time to use your vote as an educational opportunity that will continue on in the next generation.

Posted by Christine Bullock on Oct 26, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Categories: Discipling - Freedoms -


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