How to Talk about the Election Process with Kids


The consensus is in-it's never too early to talk about the election process with kids. They're likely picking up on the politically-charged climate of the country-the familiar faces of the nominees on television, the chatter of adults dropping their candidate of choice, and the other media splayed across their everyday worlds (...bumper stickers are hard to miss from backseat eyes). These messages can be difficult for young children to interpret, but parents and teachers can help filter the important stuff from the noise. 

Sensitivity to the age group at hand is the key factor in determining how to address controversial election news. A kindergartner can't grasp what a fifth grader can, and issues for both groups should be reframed to meet their respective understanding of the world. 

A fun way to engage young learners in the political process and make it more applicable to them is through technology. Voki, an educational company that offers a library of over 250 customizable, talking avatars, is a digital tool that can be used to diffuse the dialogue and highlight themes like democracy and the stages of the election process. Voki's latest hook activity, "The Road to the White House," does just that and features avatar representations of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump speaking in uncanny voices of their real-life counterparts.

Apart from this teacher-created mini lesson, parents and educators can guide kids to create their own Voki avatars and draft messages of what issues they think are important. Voki allows users to type a message, upload audio, or record their own voices. This gives even the shyest kid a voice in defining their beliefs, and can aid in touching on broader topics like diversity and tolerance by having them reflect on these values.

Nonetheless, some policies being discussed in this election cycle may be off limits to younger audiences. Teachers and parents can remind kids of policies that have already been proven to benefit society, like recycling, and prompt them to create a campaign message about this practice using a Voki avatar to deliver it.

Research shows that technology is an effective way to boost productivity, motivation, and 21st century skills. Digital tools like Voki not only enhance the learning experience for kids but also make it worth their while-who can say no to having some fun? 

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