During this campaign season, there are MANY ways you can increase your knowledge – or help your children learn something new. You could sit down and watch a debate, turn on a news channel and see highlights of the candidates’ speeches around the country, or you could even just watch those wonderful commercials that are always so positive. Or, you could take it upon yourself to actually focus on learning something useful!
As a teacher, I am an avid believer that we never stop learning – or at least we shouldn’t. Learning new things helps us to be better informed and more knowledgeable on subjects that really matter in our world, as well as allowing us to make connections to things from the past. What better inspiration for learning than our upcoming Presidential election? And who knows, maybe you will even be a more prepared and more knowledgeable voter to boot?!
What can you learn? Well, let’s just stick with four main core subjects in school: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Math.
For starters: Read!
There are several autobiographies on the current candidates out there that are really good reads! Of course, an autobiography is written by the person about himself or herself, so it will be written with “voice,” a term your children are used to hearing in school. We encourage them to write with “voice” so that when others read it they have a sense of who you are. These books are great examples of just that. These books were written from the perspective of wanting you to understand why they are where they are in life.
- An American Son: A Memoir published in 2012 about Marco Rubio. The first half of the book is his life story, including how his family migrated to the United States from Cuba – this is an amazing journey to read about!
- Trump: The Art of the Deal was originally published in 1987 by Trump himself. This book is part memoir and part advice. This book should be on the shelf of anyone who wants to learn about big business.
- Living History published in 2003 and about Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of course she has since published several other books, but this is the only one that focuses on her life.
- Outsider in the White House published just last year is Bernie Sanders’ story. This is a different type of biography and is really only about his political life, but still gives good understanding about his views and how he got those views.
- My Life by Dr. Ben Carson is basically the updated version of Gifted Hands. Dr. Carson’s story is perhaps one of the most inspiring stories you will ever read. Yes, the American Dream is still alive and well!
Can you actually practice good writing during election time? Yes! There will be upcoming debates that will be invite people to write in questions through online sources.
Take this opportunity to teach your child how to ask a good question. A question that is thoughtful, provocative, and well-ordered. Why not have them submit a question? Who knows… it could be chosen!
This one is easy… and very important!
Our candidates must answer questions about foreign policy, homeland security, and diplomacy as well as questions about working with Congress on issues like immigration. Take this opportunity to freshen up your knowledge about the global economy, who our allies are, and even things you might not really remember well from Government class.
Use this election time as a teaching time to really show your children where places are on a map, globally, as well as our own map of the United States. Maps usually are not that exciting to children, but when they learn where places are and how things going on there affect us here, all of a sudden the map becomes a tool for learning.
Math. Yes, Math!
During our election season the Electoral College is referenced often. Understanding it takes a bit of research. Looking at maps where you see the numbers of votes needed from “swing states” in addition to those that the candidate will likely “get” is worth looking at and explaining to your children. Many adults do not really understand the whole Electoral College, but there are a number of resources online to help you learn – and this is a good, practical application of statistics. Adding up the votes on the night of the election is really something you can watch on any major new channel and is quite exciting. Yes, math can be exciting (or upsetting… depending on how you end up voting), especially when it affects the next four years of our life!
So, get out there and have fun learning during election season. Then, get out there and vote!