OCTOBER 21, 2020

Get Ready to Vote — for Writing!


Sponsored by Time4Writing.

This year is an election year! For homeschoolers, it’s an interesting addition to any social studies curriculum. You can learn more with your child about caucuses and political parties and electoral votes, take advantage of publicized debates and rallies, and maybe even get your family involved in soliciting nominations and votes locally. But what does it have to do with writing? You can use all of that newfound election knowledge to increase writing skills!

Here are some ideas, by grade level, for building writing skills based on the election process. 

Election Writing Prompts for Elementary School

You may think politics is a difficult subject for our youngest students to understand, but this election season may be the perfect time to introduce your elementary child to the basics. Teach your child about leadership, expressing an opinion, and even something about the important issues of the day. Consider these writing prompts to get your child thinking, and writing, about the foundations of the election process:

  • Leadership: Leadership is something that is so necessary, especially for group projects, sports and other similar activities. You can use these activities to both practice writing skills and help your child develop into a future leader. Try asking:
    • What is a good leader? 
    • Why is (a person known by your child) a good coach/camp counselor, etc.? 
    • Why would you make a good president, mayor, team leader, etc.?
    • If you were president, mayor, team leader, etc., what would you do?
  • Expressing an Opinion: While it may be difficult to address the complicated political issues of the current election with your elementary student, you can ask him or her to think about expressing an opinion about matters that expand into local, state, and national issues. Here are some examples:
    • Why should you get an allowance (or a higher allowance)? 
    • Should you have school in the summer? Why or why not?
    • Should we live on the moon? Why or why not?
    • What should the rules of our house/homeschool be? Why did you choose those?
  • Issues: Many of the political issues of the current election are very difficult for younger children to understand. However, you can give them some background knowledge for the issues by having them do a little research. Here are some topics that will help your child become a more informed young citizen:
    • What is a citizen?
    • What is immigration?
    • What is racism?
    • What is climate change? 

Election Writing Prompts for Middle School

Middle school students may build awareness of the political process as they watch or listen to news and gather tidbits from adult conversations. They may want to engage in more mature discussions about real-world topics and welcome political talk to feel involved. Here are some writing prompts you can use to strengthen knowledge of the election process.

  • Leadership: If you have a middle schooler, chances are good that he or she has had some experience with both good and not-so-good leaders. See if you can get a more complex written response to questions like these:
    • What is a good leader?
    • Why is (political official) a good leader?
    • Write a letter to (a political official) expressing your opinion on his/her leadership.
    • Write a narrative about a day in the life of the president, governor, mayor, etc.
  • Election Process: Middle school is a great time to introduce your child to the political process. Watch some documentaries or do some research, and then ask your child to explain, in writing, parts of the election process. Here are some writing prompts:
    • What is the purpose of elections?
    • Write an essay describing the election process.
    • Compare/contrast the two main political parties.
    • Summarize the history of the right to vote.
  • Issues: Your middle schooler can also explore some basic political issues relevant to the current election. Some topics are more appropriate for high school, but here are a few that may interest your pre-teen:
    • Should you be able to fly a drone anywhere? Why or why not?
    • Should college be free for everyone? 
    • What would you like to see changed in your town, state, or country?
    • If you could write your own new law, what would it be?

 Election Writing Prompts for High School

High school is when adulthood nears and voting is one of the adult responsibilities that come with it. High schoolers are likely following the election and have learned about politics both formally and informally. They also want to express their opinions and have their opinions heard. Writing about election content can make them feel involved.

  • Leadership: At the high school level, your child should have a clearer idea about leadership and what makes a good leader. You can explore biographies of famous leaders and read works like Machiavelli’s The Prince or Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations or Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. You can have real discussions about the issues important to our country. Then, you can use some of these writing prompts to get your child thinking about the current election:
    • What is a good leader? 
    • Consider the leadership of (public official); what would you have done differently?
    • Name someone you would like to see on the ballot for president, governor, mayor, etc. Why?
    • Compare/contrast the leadership potential of the presidential candidates.
  • Election Process: High schoolers can strive to understand the entire election process. They can evaluate the process and determine what is and is not effective. They can understand their role in the process and how the process relates to the democratic ideals of this country. Have your child explore the election process through writing using prompts like these:
    • Evaluate the election process of this country. Compare it to the election process of another democratic nation.
    • Explain the electoral college and the history of its origin.
    • Do the two main political parties serve the needs of this country?
    • If you had the power to direct election reform, what would you target?
  • Issues: Your high schooler is also more likely to understand the political issues of the upcoming election. Let your teenager choose a few issues of interest to him or her, and go in depth through writing. Here are some ideas for developing content knowledge and writing skills:
    • Analyze the platform of a particular candidate.
    • Compare/contrast the candidates regarding a particular issue.
    • Take a side on a particular issue and argue for legislation related to that issue. Consider the counterarguments and be sure to address those.
    • Investigate the history of a particular issue and how we got to where we are today.

Other Ways to Build Writing Skills in an Election Year

You can create or find more election-related writing prompts, but there are other activities that will build writing skills through election content as well. Here are a few ideas:

  • Brainstorms: List verbs that tell what good leaders do, adjectives that describe good leaders, or nouns that explain current issues important to the election.
  • Debates: Offer controversial topics, and have your child debate with siblings or you or other children in your homeschool network. Ask them to organize their arguments and then present them verbally while considering the opposing views.
  • Hands-On Projects: Have your child design a campaign for a particular office, create marketing materials, design a platform, and write rally and acceptance speeches. Think about all the ways your child could write, without focusing on the writing, and build those important writing skills through fun projects!

The election process can be confusing and overwhelming—even for adults. You can help your child explore the election process at any grade level through writing. Be creative, and see how writing can help develop your future leader and voter while building important writing skills!

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