In just a few months, the citizens of our great country will make a monumental decision, impacting generations to come. The election of our nation’s president, something we only have the opportunity to do every four years, is significant, important, and extremely educational.
Now, before you become afraid that I will delve into my own political viewpoints here, never fear. This blog is not a political forum, nor do Todd or I intend to turn it into one. That being said, I think most people can agree that our presidential election is a pretty big deal. Kids can stand to learn a lot from it. And since the event only comes around every so often, we need to take advantage of it every time we can.
Four years ago, I did an extensive homeschool study of the presidential election process with our oldest two girls. They learned a great deal about the two main candidates, gained an understanding of the Electoral College, and became aware of just how polarizing politics can be.
Since they were only eight and ten years old at the time, I think it is fair to say that much of that knowledge was filed in the “not of general interest” section of their memory banks. This year, we will be doing an elections refresher course with a little bit of presidential history and state geography sprinkled in to round things out.
I looked for curriculum that met my needs and really could not find anything that was just right. Most of the products out there were either very in-depth, poorly written, or ridiculously expensive. So, I did what any homeschooling mother in this situation does. I wrote it myself.
My goals for the presidential study unit are these:
- Demonstrate a basic understanding of the United States Executive Branch, including the duties of the American president.
- Understand and demonstrate through written and verbal communication the basic differences between our country’s two primary political parties.
- Learn the presidential election method. Create a political map indicating election results from a presidential election.
- Watch the voting process in action by visiting a polling site on Election Day.
- Memorize the names of our fifty states and capitals.
- Create a Presidential Notebook, demonstrating knowledge of our first seventeen presidents: George Washington through Andrew Johnson.
Learning about the Executive Branch, our political parties, and the Electoral College just make sense when studying our election process. I also wanted us to have a refresher course on states and capitals this year anyway, and an election study meshed well with that. We will be completing a mapping exercise during and after the presidential election. Basic geography skills will ease that process.
Our middle daughter really enjoys presidential history, and she will be studying American history through the Civil War and Reconstruction in-depth this year. It made sense to create an opportunity for her to tie her interests in with the course she will already be studying by requiring the completion of a presidents’ notebook. Next year, when she finishes American history, she will likely complete her Presidential Notebook for the remaining presidents.
The course is seventeen weeks long, or one semester. The target audience is upper elementary through middle school grades. It includes reading assignments, a simple “Memory” or “Concentration” game, map work, keeping a notebook or journal, completing an election assignment and an election project, visiting a polling site on Election Day, and a states & capitals quiz.
Aside from my own course guide, the curriculum utilized includes:
- Understanding the Election Process by Amy Blevins
- A Presidential Scrapbook by Joel F. King, ISBN 978-1-932786-43-9
- Cantering the Country by Loree Pettit and Dari Mullins, ISBN 1-931397-33-3
- Elections in the U.S.A. by Highsmith, LLC, ISBN 1-56472-357-7
I have attached the course here for anyone interested. Although it is designed for a homeschool learning environment, anyone could easily use it. Many public and private schools will likely utilize their own election study units, but you never know.
This week our community is holding primary and local elections. Although we have not yet begun our study of elections and government, I plan to take the girls along with me when I vote. Voting is an experience that was not afforded to American women just a few generations ago. It is important that each of my girls know and understand how important it is for them to participate in the election process. Watching their mother cast her vote is one of the best opportunities for them to learn.
Do you take your kids with you to vote? Let me know in an email or comment below!
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