DEMOCRACY AT HOME
By Alli Zomer
These days it is hard to escape the flood of political news all around us. And unfortunately, it can often feel chaotic and divisive. But what if we acknowledged this moment in time not by thinking about politics, but by thinking about democracy? And specifically, reflecting on some of the core values of democracy and what it might mean to explore those at home, with our own families. There is no single list of those values, but here are a few ideas for how children (and adults!) might be able to connect to some of our nation’s founding principles this November.
E Pluribus Unum
The national motto of the United States is E Pluribus Unum, “Out of many — one.” The idea that many different people come together to create a united whole applies to our families as well. So why not take some time to think about the special contributions of each person that, when put together, make your family extraordinary? Each person in your family could have a special day, when they get to choose favorite activities, books or foods for the whole family. Or it could be a way to learn more about extended family members – what stories, experiences and contributions have they made? Children could come up with a list of questions to ask grandparents, aunts/uncles or cousins and interview them (a great use for video chat!). Finally, your family could develop its own motto: what are your words to live by?
Life (liberty, and the pursuit of happiness)
Children are naturally curious, and have a wonderful ability look at things adults may take as a given and genuinely ask, Why? Imagine how many questions could be explored through the single concept of life! What things are alive (plants, animals, people)? What do living things need and how do they get them (food, water, sunlight/energy)? What don’t we understand about life (so many things!)? How can we respect the life around us, whether a person, a plant or a pesky bug?
Ok, this one might veer into the actual political realm for just a moment. But participating in the democratic process is an invaluable lesson we can pass on to our children. Whatever your political views, we hope that you will vote and make your voice heard. And when you do, talk to your children about it. A great way to help them understand is to create voting activities at home. A shoe box and some scratch paper can easily be transformed into a ballot box and a heated contest for which vegetable to make that evening! Children who can’t write yet could use a green mark for green beans or an orange mark for carrots. Experiences like that help children to see that their perspective matters, and it also teaches them to respect the views of those around them whether they win or lose.