We get a lot of raised eyebrows when we tell people that we produce books and apps that introduce politics to children. It’s is a subject that can make even a mature adult’s palms sweaty, and on the surface, it seems like the last thing anyone would want to bring up with their child. However, not only can you have a productive and engaging political chat with your young thinker, but you really should.
1. Let’s face it, voter turn-out in North America is generally pretty disappointing, especially with young people. If we want kids to take advantage of this very important privilege, to voice their opinions and feel that they have a say in how their country is run, it needs to be instilled in them long before they’re old enough to vote. They need to feel like it’s a responsibility as well as a right, and that their thoughts matter.
2. Politics isn’t just all about elections. It’s about big ideas, ideas that even small children can relate to easily, like power, fairness, equality, and decision-making. Believe it or not, they’re probably already thinking about what it means to be in charge, how things ought to be run, and how change can happen. Why not engage them in conversation while they’re at it?
3. Talking politics has a spill-over effect. There are essential 21st Century skills to be gained from this kind of dialogue, like better communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and global awareness, all of which can be used in other subject areas. Moreover, a child who feels at liberty to talk about politics will likely be more comfortable asking about ethics, science, life, the universe, and everything.
4. It’s cheesy, but true: the children are our future. The little munchkins putting raisins in their noses and clogging the air ducts with plasticine really are going to be running the country some day. If we expect them to excel as leaders, why not give them as much as a head start as possible?
5. Just as a parent or teacher can encourage a child to discuss political issues, a child can encourage the big people in their lives to open up to new perspectives. Seeing politics through a new pair of eyes just might spark a new desire to get informed and get involved.