Author, educator, mom, and Ph.D.
Homeschooling provides a golden opportunity for teaching kids about the presidential election. Presidential elections happen only once every four years. From the first-in-the-nation caucuses and primaries through Election Day, excitement builds throughout the year. Harness that interest by building the presidential election into your homeschool curriculum. It will provide your kids with a wealth of civic education.
Do you want to teach the presidential election in your homeschool but don’t know where to start? Here are five effective strategies to get you going.
I went to graduate school for political science. My very first semester coincided with a presidential election. A professor was offering a class on the election, so I signed up. He wrote a book about every election, and he used the class to pick our brains about what we were thinking. The class met for three hours at night. We sat around a long, narrow table on the first floor of a historic building at our university. And we rehashed what happened in the presidential campaign that week. Of course, we had some readings and a final paper. But most of all, we were asked to pay attention and come to class ready to discuss the latest developments.
If you want your kids to learn about the presidential election, pay close attention to it. Much can be gleaned about candidates and their campaigns simply by paying attention.
I prepared for my graduate school seminar by watching the campaign unfold. So much raw campaign material is televised and streamed these days. On live television, I watched the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. On election night, my classmates and I gathered at a fellow student’s house. We had food and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and watched the returns come in. When it was all over, I got tickets to the inauguration and watched it live from the frigid National Mall.
If you want to make the presidential election part of your homeschool curriculum, I suggest you watch it. For the early primaries and caucuses, you can watch the returns come in from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and other states. Cable television networks and their websites will carry these live. During the summer or early fall, you can watch four nights of convention programming for each political party. Then as Election Day gets closer, tune into the debates. On election night, watch the returns come in from across the entire country. To fill in the gaps, the candidates have their own YouTube channels with their campaign ads and policy videos. Work your way through these, and you will learn a great deal.
It is best to watch raw material—live or recorded events—rather than somebody else’s interpretation of them. Consider these primary sources for your election education.
Read about It
It is still good, however, to have someone else’s take on campaign and election events. Newspaper articles can fill in the background and give you information you would not otherwise have. When I was in graduate school, I started subscribing to a good, old-fashioned newspaper. I still do today. When it arrives in our mailbox, I bring it inside and set it on our kitchen table so that my kids can page through it when they have some downtime. There is value in kids seeing newsprint and reading articles slightly above their level. You can’t beat a newspaper, local or national, for in-depth coverage of the presidential election. There will be maps, graphics, and statistics. There will be in-depth coverage of issues. From the primary season through the inauguration, you are pretty much guaranteed to see an article on the presidential election just about every day.
Do you cover current events as a regular part of your homeschool curriculum? If not, the presidential election season is a great time to get started. Whether you gather for morning basket time or afternoon teatime, shared learning times are ideal for engaging the whole family in election learning. Choose a newspaper article and read it aloud. Discuss it together. If there are maps, charts, graphs, or illustrations, pass those around the circle. Check out our complimentary Current Events Quick Start Guide if you need help getting started.
Do It Together
One of my best memories from my graduate school class is learning about the election with other people. I have vivid memories of my fellow students, my professor’s good humor, and everybody’s different viewpoints. I don’t remember the specifics about our weekly reading assignments, but I do remember the fun we had watching the drama of the election unfold together.
One of the best ways to homeschool the presidential election is to do it with other people. Is your family part of a homeschool co-op? If so, consider offering a course on the presidential election in your homeschool co-op. Do you have another family or two that you get together with on a regular basis? Ask that family to join with yours in learning about the election. At the very least, gather to watch a debate or two and election night coverage.
Use a Presidential Election Curriculum
As a parent or co-op teacher, do you find the presidential election complicated and confusing? Don’t worry, they are! Can you confidently explain how the Electoral College works? Do you know why we have the Electoral College in the first place? Do you know what a party platform is? Are you up to date on the latest developments in election laws and voting methods?
If you could use a helping hand in guiding your homeschooled students through the presidential election, look no further. Our Presidential Election Unit Study will be your guide from Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses all the way to Inauguration Day. It is both in-depth and accessible. No prep work is required for parents or teachers. It has lessons, review exercises, and questions for debate. It has video links to amazing resources on the web, from campaign ads to documentaries to historic debates.
At Silverdale Press, it is our mission to help you raise great citizens. The presidential election is the perfect time to do just that. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to educate future voters.