How To Creatively Teach Your Child The Importance Of Voting And Election
Here's how you can educate children about voting and the election process in India, which are both integral to our democratic system of governance.
By Jasmine Kaur
With the election in progress, a lot of news is focused on it. So, it’s likely that your child is brimming with questions about what all this hype is about. However, given the complexity of politics, you might find it difficult to explain the process simply. So, here’s a guide on how to teach children about voting and elections.
What is voting?
Voting is a decision-making process for a group of three or more people in order to reach a collective decision. The voters choose between two or more options. The option with most votes usually wins. For example, if your child and her friends are trying to decide whether to play cricket or football, they can take a vote on it. Whichever option gets the most votes can be the game they play.
For the elections, the voters go to a polling station and choose from the available candidates during the voting period. Their votes are recorded and tabulated electronically.
What’s the importance of voting?
In elections, voting is about choosing a reliable leader for the nation. It is important for a nation to have leadership in order to function as all people can’t vote on every single national decision. For example, a school has a principal to lead the students and teachers and to maintain a structure in place so that there is limited chaos. A principal is probably in a better position to decide on what type of pedagogy to have in school than students are, due to her expertise. Similarly, a leader with relevant expertise is probably in a better position to take decisions about laws about transport, infrastructure, labour etc. than a randomly chosen citizen.
In order to have a good representative, it helps if a majority of the population votes. This helps improve the diversity of opinions and needs of citizens reflected in the chosen candidate. Moreover, it is our civil duty to vote. Because even though each individual vote might not count for much, together we have the power to make a difference.
What is the eligibility criteria to vote in India?
- To be at least 18 years old by the 1st January of the election year
- To have voter ID
- Not have been officially declared to have an ‘unsound’ mind
- Not have been disqualified due to corruption charges
- Not be imprisoned at the time
Why are children not allowed to vote?
This is because children aren't considered old enough. Individuals under the age of eighteen are treated differently under the law than older individuals. This includes multiple advantages and disadvantages. Not being able to vote is one of the disadvantages.
This age was decided because people seemed to have thought that most children reach enough maturity around that eighteen. However, the legal reason for this age is somewhat arbitrary and based on certain cultural norms as different people mature at different rates.
How can children get involved in the election process?
Even though voting is one of the most essential aspects of an election, there are other ways of getting involved. If your child is very interested in the elections you can encourage her to write and debate about her chosen candidate along with some policy issues close to her heart. This way she can spread more awareness about the elections and may even influence the votes of other people.
Who has been elected in the past?
You can use the election process as a way of teaching your child some history. You can discuss the previous Prime Ministers and why they were elected. This will also help provide some examples for your child to understand the upcoming elections better.
Picture books on elections
Here are some children's books on voting and elections, which you can also take the aid of in your explanations about the elections.
Amelia Bedelia's First Vote
Author: Herman Parish
Illustrator: Lynne Avril
This book teaches children about the process of voting and making rules in a fair way as the students come up with their own rules.
One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote
Author: Bonnie Worth
Illustrators: Aristides Ruiz And Joe Mathieu
The popular Dr. Seuss character, Cat in the Hat, makes a comeback as a presidential candidate to represent children.
Grace for President
Author: Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrators: LeUyen Pham
A girl decides to run for president after learning that her country never had a female president.
We often imagine politics to be too complex for young kids, which it can be. However, if we really try, we can help children understand this crucial process. Not to mention that it can encourage them to become more involved citizens. And remember that though children can’t vote, you can. Children’s welfare has suffered at alarming rates, with crimes against children having risen by 16% from 2014 to 2016, and decreased budgets for children’s needs. So, try to speak for children, who don’t have the power to speak for themselves.
About the author:
Written by Jasmine Kaur on 23 April 2019.
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