Teach Your Kids About Voting


Published:

As the Presidential election is all over the news right now, it's a great time to teach kids how our electoral process works. It's also a wonderful opportunity to help our children develop a love of - and an appreciation for - our country. Here are some tips for involving kids in the voting process, for making U.S. history come alive, for remembering our veterans and more.

°        Teach kids how elections work. Even children as young as early-elementary-school age can get involved in learning about elections if you keep things simple and fun. During the presidential election in 2000, when our son, Matt, was almost five, we explained - in VERY basic terms - how the electoral college worked. (Confession: We had to research that a bit ourselves, first!) We printed colorful electoral-college maps from the Internet, as election day neared, to show which states were leaning toward which candidates. We watched the presidential debates together and huddled around the television on election night. It was a hoot to see Matt - who for weeks had been paying particular attention to NBC's Tim Russert (who will be greatly missed) and his ever-present white board - getting excited and saying "It all comes down to Ohio, Ohio, Ohio!"

°        Take the kids to the polls. At our local polling place, they offer a children's practice ballot, which is a big hit with kids from preschool on up. Matt has happily "voted" for Abraham Lincoln for president on more than one occasion. "The most important thing you can do to help generate your kids' interest in the public process is to take them to vote with you," says mother-of-three Marika Bergsund. "They have all been voting with us since they were toddlers. We always include them in reviewing the voting materials and prepping our sample ballot. And we let them help in the voting booth," she adds. "We treat voting like a very special privilege that should be valued - which it is!"

°        Follow local politics. Kids need to know that their mayor, city council and school board make decisions that affect their lives. For a community report in third grade, we took Matt to visit the local city-council chambers. He got to see the mayor's office (and pick up the gavel - a big treat), sit where the council members sit during meetings and learn how decisions are made. This is also a good place to teach kids that, when they start voting, their vote will matter. "We follow all local elections to help our daughter understand the importance of every single vote," says Joyce Fahey. After a city-council election in a nearby town was won by less than 10 votes, "we talked about the fact that the losing candidate undoubtedly had 10 friends who were 'just too busy' to take the time to vote," she adds.

°        Sing America's songs. A University of Florida study found that we are losing a large part of our national identity because we so seldom sing traditional American songs. Researchers note that many of our national songs are being ignored in favor of pop hits, and that today's children are more likely to know the lyrics to the latest Taylor Swift song than to patriotic, folk and traditional children's songs. "Although Americans say that the singing of folk songs and songs of our heritage is important, we are teaching very few of them in the schools," says music professor Russell Robinson, who supervised the study. That's why it's more important than ever to enjoy these songs at home. CDs of classic American songs are available at your local library. Visit www.scoutsongs.com for lyrics to "America the Beautiful," "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy," "This Land is Your Land" and many other traditional American songs.

°        Visit America's historic sites. "Washington D.C. is 'our city,' and we need to make sure our kids get there when they are at the right age to absorb the enormity of the greatness of our nation," says Joy Hall, the mother of two. "I think the war memorials and the Smithsonian, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial and the Capitol building are all really awe-inspiring to kids." Before her husband took their son to Washington D.C., "we had our son do some reading so he was better prepared to absorb what he saw and so he could feel proud of what he knew," she says. Michelle Erickson says her sons, learned a great deal during a family trip to Boston. "We saw the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere's house and a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party," she says. Erickson agrees that it's helpful to read historical children's books ahead of time so that the kids have a greater appreciation for what they're seeing. "And it's important, on these visits, to talk about the sacrifices made by the first settlers to America," she says.

°        Talk with a veteran. "My grandson's school presents a patriotic program each year," says Ellen Herron. Veterans and public- safety officers are invited, along with family and friends. "The students each write a 'Dear Soldier' letter, some of which are read during the program," she adds. Other families report that a visit to a veterans' hospital, whether as a family or as part of a school, Scouting or church group, was particularly meaningful for their family. Interviewing a veteran is a great way for kids to learn about our country's history and to show appreciation for those who have sacrificed for our freedom. "Our kids enjoy talking to their grandpa and looking over anything he has that relates to when he was in World War II," says Hall. She also suggests interviewing veterans to learn about their war-time experiences.

°        Set an example. Kids watch what we do, and our actions tell them what we value, says Hall. "We display a flag, we turn on the T.V. for inaugural events, and we watch State of the Union addresses and presidential funerals," she adds. "We also write letters to enlisted men and women." One of the most important things we can give our children is to pass on our own love for America, says Hall. "Nothing can replace the pride and tears they see in your eyes at certain times that are significant to our country."

Kathy Sena frequently covers parenting issues. Visit her at kathy@kathysena.com

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August 2019

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Flaherty Park Community Center
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Flaherty Park Community Center
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: $5 per family

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Make a tree with your best friends' names. Ages 2-6 with caregiver. Register online. Choose course #125008.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
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Cost: Free

Where:
Locopops Dessert Cafe
2618 Hillsborough St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: $2 per child

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Did you know that most of the world’s data is stored in something called a database? This includes your school grades, Yelp’s list of local pizza shops and music downloads on your...

Cost: Free: registration required

Where:
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Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood

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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. Choose course #124908.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

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August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day. Come to the Finley Center anytime during the day to share some jokes with the park community. A large board will be set up in the Exhibit Hall where...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

More information

Take a hike after dark and enjoy the sounds of the night along the American Tobacco Trail! We’ll let the light of an almost full moon guide us as we walk to the Beaver Creek bridge and back...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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See the blockbuster movie at Booth Amphitheatre. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $5 for ages 13 and older. Free for ages 12 and younger.

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Shop for local handmade arts and crafts from local vendors. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day. Come to the Finley Center anytime during the day to share some jokes with the park community. A large board will be set up in the Exhibit Hall where...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

The Carolina Homeschool Conference 2019 welcomes all homeschoolers for a day of education, inspiration and connection. There will be six workshops, a keynote address and a Q&A panel featuring...

Cost: $32 before July 1, $40 after July 1

Where:
Hope Community Church
2080 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Homeschool Conference, LLC
Contact Name: Laina Yeisley
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. Choose course #124955.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Come learn all about how red wiggler worms can recycle your leftover food into soil. One lucky family will win a new worm bin (minus the worms). Resources for where to purchase or order worms will...

Cost: $5 per family

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Big Field at Dorothea Dix Park
101 Blair Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

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Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
Website »

More information

Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

More information

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