By DM Michals
While many of us may not start thinking about upcoming elections until we are bombarded with campaign ads, teaching children about voting actually starts months in advance. Under the age of 18 is the perfect opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the electoral process to build a strong foundation in responsible citizenship.
We have some great ideas on how to get your family engaged—and keep them engaged—in the democratic process.
Get Out and Vote!
What better way to teach a homeschooler about voting than by getting out to vote! Did you know that in every state in the United States, a child under the age of 18 can accompany you into the voting booth? It’s true! However, certain states place a limit on how many children may enter with you, and Texas is one of them. According to Section 64.002 of the The Texas Election Code (TEC):
Sec. 64.002. OCCUPANCY OF VOTING STATION. (a) Except as otherwise provided by this code, only one person at a time may occupy a voting station.
(b) A child under 18 years of age may accompany the child’s parent to a voting station.
In Texas, only one child may enter the booth, and he must be with a parent.
Host a Mock Election with Project V.O.T.E.
Project V.O.T.E.(Voters of Tomorrow through Education) is a non-partisan program designed to help educate children on the democratic process. Hosted by the Office of the Secretary of State since 2010, Project V.O.T.E. encourages children to learn about the voting process, and to become responsible voters when they become of voting age.
Project V.O.T.E. provides online resources to conduct your own Student Mock Election. Instruct students on how to register to vote, the history of voting and what to expect at the voting booth with their easy online and downloadable resources.
In their “For Kids Only” section, you’ll find downloadable resources including puzzles and games, a State Flag Challenge perfect for younger homeschoolers, Election Bingo
and more. You can learn more and set up your own mock election by visiting the Project V.O.T.E. website.
Too Young to Cast A Ballot? Not Too Young To Start Teaching About Voting!
Not yet being eligible to vote shouldn’t deter your youth from learning and participating in the electoral process. There are numerous ways to get involved right now including discussing current events together, encouraging people to sign up and vote, and working at the campaign headquarters of your favorite candidate.
Texas Home School Coalition’s Lone Star Study
For a comprehensive look into voting, elections and good citizenship, check out our Lone Star Study (available to THSC members). We have all the resources you need in one place to instruct your homeschooler on the election process in Texas. This free download is available on our website and includes lessons and activities for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
With easily identifiable grade levels, you’ll guide your student through the executive, legislative and judicial branches, create a notebook of your activities, analyze legislation, and older children will study The Law, a document published as a pamphlet in June 1850 by Frederic Bastiat, a French economist, statesman and author, all the while discovering what their responsibilities are as a registered voter.
Voting shouldn’t be a mystery. Engaging your student and demystifying the process will encourage a civically-minded and active member of your community. In a recent call-to-action released by Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs, she reminds us:
“Being prepared is essential for Texans’ seeking to make their voices heard. In addition to registering to vote, Texans should set aside time to ensure that they have made the necessary preparations to cast their ballot. Together, we will ensure that all eligible Texans are able to take part in shaping the direction of the Lone Star State.”