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Congress is in Recess?

Tell them it’s President Young calling.

Every kid dreams about someday being in charge! What better way than to elect them President for the day. This role-playing activity is as fun for kids as it is educational.
 
As President your child will have to make small and large decisions throughout the day and interact with lots of colorful characters which you, your family and friends can act out in person or by phone and video chat.
 

Setting up President for a Day

  • Planning for this day can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like and can involve other family members participation.
  • When you decide which day will work for the family you’ll simply say to your child, “Congratulations, the country has elected you President!” Then tell them which day will be inauguration day.
  • The advantage to telling your child in advance about their special day is that there will be many opportunities for you to explain what the duties and responsibilities of the president are and give them the time to think and make the most out of their day in charge. They will be so excited by the time Inauguration Day rolls around!
  • As Chief of Staff you will guide the President’s schedule.
  • Assign other family members (both in and out of the house) the roles of Secret Service (perhaps the most fun job), Speaker of the House, Foreign Heads of State…there are plenty of jobs to go around and everyone in the family can get involved. It is very important that’s anyone who speaks to your child refers to them as Madam President or Mr. President at all times.
  • The day’s agenda can include all sorts of challenging decisions, compromises and emergencies. Your child can interact remotely with the Leader of the House, Foreign Heads of State and even call an emergency meeting of the Subcommittee of Ice Cream Sundae Consumption.
  • As their trusted advisor you can present them with a budget at the beginning of the day that will ensure that presidential requests don’t get out of hand. They can choose their own agenda and will have to set priorities that fit within the budget. 
  • Set up a scenario in which the President will need to convene the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader to discuss a new proposal and the need to reallocate funds. For instance, the plan for dinner falls through and the President must get approval from Congress to finalize what dinner will be. 

Helping your kids understand how government works:

Understanding how government works is a daunting task even for adults and as great as our teacher’s are, it’s not the most exciting subject matter when you’re a kid. 

Find fun ways to use the holiday to help kids understand how government works and the best way is to start at the local level. There are board games to help make this fun (we know….talking politics is about as fun as watching the news) but the earlier your kids get it, the better citizens they’ll be and they just might pick up some strategies to help them as they navigate this thing called life.

If you see a crew filling a pot hole, point out how that gets done through the city government. Explain how they Mayor sets the goals and works with the City Council to make them happen.

Ask your kids what they would do if they were mayor, governor or president? What things do they think elected officials could focus on to make your town better? Hold a mock election for your family and have older kids put together platforms for an imaginary campaign complete with banners and slogans. They can even write a stump speech!

Looking at politics as they’re intended to work:

  • The small part of your town elects someone to be their City representative. That person’s job is to make decisions that will help the people on your street and your part of town. That includes fixing roads, bringing in new stores and businesses and generally helping to make life better for everyone. All of the districts of your town elect their own representative and all of those people make up the City Council. 
  • The town also votes to elect one person who will work with the City Council to make decisions for the city as a whole…the Mayor. 
  • Now, each member of the city government has a goal for their part of town. And one goal may not work well with another districts goals. That’s when politics start to work.
  • All of those people with different ideas and projects have to come together and make compromises and strategies that ultimately help the city as a whole. If one street needs a pothole filled, the representative of that street has to make sure that there is money and resources put into the overall city’s budget to make that happen. The representatives listen to the people in their districts and work with their fellow representatives to get things done. 

Starting small and local will help your kids apply that same thinking and structure to state government and national government….it all works the same, just the districts get bigger and bigger as you move up through the different levels. 

The biggest takeaway for explaining politics to kids boils down to compromising. Being able to work through conflict with their friends and siblings in a constructive way now will develop skills that will serve them well as they enter the workforce in the future (and it just might help stop a few fights along the way). 

Make a game out of explaining compromise and lead by example. When your kid is wanting something that doesn’t fit into your plan, compromise with them and show them the art of give-and-take. If you really want to win home-educator of the year, bring this game into your world

A great tie-in is through some of the video games that require you to build homes, towns and a community! Tie in the connection between those games and the similarities with real world politics. 

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