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Democracy In Action

Tomorrow at Ilan Ramon Day School the democratic process will take hold, as our elementary school will elect the student council for this year. Students in the fifth grade will stand up in front of their peers, share their thoughts about how they can affect change in our school, and ask their fellow students to vote for them. In two weeks we as a country will do the same, an essential moment for all of us to model for our children what it means to live in a country where democracy is alive and every citizen has an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.

As important as it is for every eligible citizen to cast their vote, have their voice be heard, and to engage in our democracy, we also have an obligation to teach our children what it means to be participants as well. Over the last several weeks the students of Ilan Ramon Day School have been learning about our political process and the upcoming election. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner once said, "Knowledge about our government is not handed down through the gene pool. Every generation has to learn it, and we all learn best by doing."

In one week, on November 1, along with hundred of thousands of students from across America, the elementary students of Ilan Ramon Day School will get to cast another ballot. Through a special program, our students will participate in the election for President. They will visit the Ilan Ramon Day School polling station and electronically vote for either Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump.

Our preschool students, over the next several days, will also have the chance to have their voices heard in fun ways by voting for important issues to themselves. I wonder if our class pets will be renamed?

But elections and our democracy are not only to be taught in school. As Sandra Day O'Conner suggested, a parents obligation is to pass their understanding down to their children and engage with them at home.

Here are a few suggestions on how you might accomplish this:

Read age-appropriate books about voting and elections. Start the conversation with a good book. These are a few titles related to the election topic for your family:

Conduct family votes. Pose voting questions to your family. What do you want for dinner? What movie we will go to on the weekend? Discuss the voting process, and if the decision isn't unanimous, discuss possible compromises.

Pose a "what if" presidential question. Ask your child to draw a picture, or write about (depending on the age of your child), if they were President what they would do to make the world a better place (who knows one this might end up being an election platform).

Take your child with you to vote. Discuss the roles of the president and other leaders on the ballot, and explain why you picked a certain candidate. To teach your child about good citizenship, it's better to talk about the merits of your preferred candidate, rather than criticize the opponent.

If you want to see the results of this national election your child participated in you may do so by visiting http://everykidlearns.org/vote/

Happy Voting.

Yuri

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