Tips to help your kids understand the '08 election:
The old parenting standby - "When they start asking questions" - applies here. Your children will be bombarded with images and information about the election, from television commercials to news stories to listening to adult conversations, and he is bound to have questions. Here are some suggestions to help your child learn about politics, the election and citizenship in general:
Don't be afraid to talk about politics with your children, but be sure to meet them at their level. Detailed explanations on immigration issues or global warming may be lost on a 5-year-old.
Bring your child with you to the voting booth, or explain to them what you are doing when they see you filling out an absentee ballot.
Comment on political ads when they appear on TV. Don't be afraid to talk about politics, but be sure to explain both sides of an issue. (That may be difficult, especially when you yourself have a strong feeling about an issue or candidate!)
Create a mock election in your household over something fun, such as President of the TV for a day. Give kids the opportunity to set up a "platform," and to vote.
Create a memory game, word search or crossword puzzle using the names of the American presidents, to generate interest in who the next one will be.
Bring your child to a political rally, or have them accompany you if you volunteer for a candidate or issue.
Encourage your child's interest. This may be the start of their exposure to current events and the world beyond their own neighborhood.
It's easy and natural to want to mold your children in your likeness, and have them embrace your same political and social beliefs. Remember, however, that helping kids to think critically, see both sides of an issue and make up their own minds are some of the best lessons a parent can teach.