The General Election explained…to a six year old

general election, voting, education

Helen came with me to the polling station. She claimed it was “boring” but couldn’t wait to visit a second time. Pic credit below.

As I write this, the General Election is over, the final few ballot papers are being counted and it seems as if we are heading towards a Conservative Government with a small majority. I’m not going to outline what I think of this. Instead I thought I’d write about how I’ve used the election in a valiant, if not entirely successful, attempt to educate my eldest daughter.

Despite only being six years old, I often discuss current affairs with Helen. I believe it’s important as I want her to develop a rounded view of the world. Whether it’s the earthquake in Nepal, events in the Ukraine or the General Election, we chat about them.

I’m always amazed at questions she asks when we have these discussions. She comes out with some very poignant remarks. I was, in my younger days, a journalist and I can’t help wondering if I’ve passed on some kind of current affairs gene to her.

Thinking that she might find it interesting, I took her along to the polling station when I cast my vote. She was really excited about going. To manage her expectations, I explained to her exactly what to expect when we got there and what would happen.

Our polling station is in the hall of a primary school and the second we got into the building she ran up the steps and started playing around with stage props that had been left out! Once these had been put back, I showed her the ballot paper and talked her through who all the candidates were.

This is where it got interesting. One of the candidates was from the Class War party and so the ballot paper had a skull and cross bones on it. Needless to say this appealed to my daughter. Having explained that we have some relatives who live in David Cameron’s constituency, she was adamant I should vote Conservative (whether I was persuaded by my daughter or not shall remain a mystery, I don’t beleive in making such details public).

As an aside, Helen was very worried about the SNP winning in Scotland. I’d explained that the party wants “to make Scotland a different country.” Helen didn’t like this idea as she was concerned it might be difficult to visit Granny in future because she lives near Glasgow.

With my vote cast, we left. Helen’s response; “That was a bit boring.”

This wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. Even so, I know I have nurtured an early interest in the political system and I think that’s no bad thing.

While I found Helen’s response a little disappointing, this story has a happy ending. When my wife returned home from work, she announced she was going straight back out to vote. Helen clearly hadn’t found her initial experience that boring because she asked if she could go along. Sure enough, Helen went to the polling station for the second time in a day.

Have you spoken to your children about the General Election? Did you take them to vote? Were your children interested in the election at all? Please leave a comment below, I’d be curious to find out.

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  1. May 8, 2015 / 3:19 pm

    It’s always great to see when children have interest in things usually considered beyond their years. Not only are my children interested in what is going on with the general election, but my son has recently asked for his birthday party to be based around science, with cool scientific experiments and the like!

    It’s really encouraging for the future that our children are taking an interest in things that will play a big part in their life, like politics and science.

    Thanks for writing this, it brings hope for the future of our children!

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:20 am

      Thanks for commenting Matthew. Brings some hope doesn’t it?

  2. May 9, 2015 / 6:47 am

    We took Zach with us but he’s only two and a half! He was excited though and he knew what the polling station was and that we needed to cross a box. He stood with daddy while he cast his vote. I think if we instill it into them from an early age, they may be interested enough to vote themselves when the time is right. I was shocked by the amount of people my age on Facebook saying they couldn’t be bothered to vote. I mean heck, it sounded like a bunch of teenagers rather than 32 year olds!! #bigfatlinky

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:19 am

      Well, the way to avoid voter apathy is ot get them invovled when young. That’s my theory anyway!

  3. May 9, 2015 / 7:18 am

    I did – my eldest (8) was very interested and asked lots of questions. I tried to explain it is like different teams with a team captain. She asked lots of questions and it was nice she seemed so interested. #bigfatlinky

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:18 am

      I like this explanation. Good work.

  4. May 9, 2015 / 7:37 am

    My six year old came with me to vote and understood that it was to choose who will run the country but she couldn’t grasp why I didn’t vote for myself!

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:18 am

      Iguess you could always stand for election next time….then you could vote for yourself? Although that is an extreme way to keep a six year old happy.

  5. May 9, 2015 / 9:43 am

    I agree it’s good to make an early start and I’ve been astounded by my 9 year old daughter’s interest in the election and have a post on that very subject scheduled for Monday! 🙂

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:17 am

      I shall go and have a read of your post Sarah!

  6. May 9, 2015 / 10:14 am

    The boys have never shown an interest in it but they’re young so I’m not overly surprised. Although their mums house hold is very political with their step dad being really involved. So maybe next time they’ll be more interested.#bigfatlinky

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:16 am

      I hope it means more to them next time round Martyn. Thanks for commenting.

  7. May 9, 2015 / 2:03 pm

    We took my daughter (5) to vote with us, and she was really interested asking why we had to vote yes or no on one paper (about local planning laws), why we chose who we chose etc. It was really interesting to see the reaction and learn the questions. Personally I believe that we should be teaching our kids at young ages what things like voting really mean, better now than when they are hard to motivate during the tricky teen years, anything that reduces voter apathy.

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:14 am

      Oh yes Ashley, you’re absolutelt correct and hence why I took Helen with me. Better while young that in the teenaged years when that boat will have sailed.

  8. May 9, 2015 / 11:49 pm

    What a fantastic thing to do! I hope more parents get on board with this idea. I think people would be much more likely to take an interest in politics if they were introduced at an early age! #bigfatlinky

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:10 am

      Thank you, talking to Helen about the election certainly seemed to spark an interest so I was more than happy to build on this by letting see me vote.

  9. May 10, 2015 / 9:36 am

    We took Boo with us but at 16 months it totally went over her head!
    I do think it’s a great idea to try to spark an interest, we need more of the population voting so getting children interested early is a great idea.

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:09 am

      Indeed we do need more people to take an interst and that was part of the reason I took Helen along, get her interested at the youngets age.

  10. May 11, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    I think it’s really important to educate our little ones as much as possible – and it’s great to have inquisitive kids and take the time to explain things. My daughter is only 2 and a half but came first with my husband then me to the polling station and she helped put the ballot in the box which she seemed to find quite exciting. For the next one I’ll definitely be explaining things a bit more – like you did with Helen. I just love getting their perspective on things too. #bigfatlinky

    • John Adams
      May 13, 2015 / 4:05 am

      You know I was going ot let Helen put the ballot paper in the ballot box but I thought the electiopn officials might draw the line at that point! Maybe next time I’ll let her. T

      • May 16, 2015 / 12:45 pm

        Haha! I wasn’t sure if she was technically allowed to do it but she’s such a sweetie I don’t think the officials minded. X

        • John Adams
          May 20, 2015 / 6:01 am

          I looked into it beforehand. SO long as the kids don’t actually see you vote, all is fine apparently. In fact they are supposedly under orders to be super friendly and welcoming to all children so as to encouraghe them to vote in later years.