Should children know about politics?

The UK’s parliamentary democracy is one that is highly respected around the world. Although we don’t have an official constitution as other countries do, it has worked for centuries to allow many aspects of our lives to run smoothly. In these unprecedented days of a worldwide pandemic, the importance of political decisions and discourse has been highlighted.

Your children need to know about politics, in a child-friendly way, as they are the voters of the future. The decisions which our government take today will affect their future and they will have to deal with the consequences. Greta Thunberg and the ‘School Climate Strike movement’ is evidence of the way children and young adults are becoming so much more aware of the political world around them.

Here are some top tips to introduce or help your child to become more familiar with politics:

  1. The youngest of children can be introduced to concepts such as sharing, fairness and equality.
  2. Encourage your child to debate topics that are important to them, such as ‘should children wear school uniform?’ or ‘should football be banned in school playgrounds?’ This will help them to form their own opinions and to be able to defend them (respectfully of course!).
  3. Look out for campaigns aimed at children such as the ‘Walk to School’ campaign which aims to promote healthy travel throughout childhood.
  4. Research children’s news stories and programmes together and discuss the content. First News is a great source of factual information aimed at kids. At Gateways, we are subscribed to First News and other resources available on-site at our library for all pupils to engage with.
  5. Discussing with your child any real-life situations which occur involving conflict, helping them to come to a resolution which all parties will comply with.
  6. Does their school provide political opportunities such as a school council or debate club? If so, then encourage them to take part; but if not, and your child is passionate about politics, seek advice on setting one up together or through the school. At Gateways, we have both a High School and Prep School School Council where the children are encouraged to share ideas and suggest any positive changes they think could be made to the school.  
  7. Take a step back in time and discuss historical events in politics that children can resonate with, such as the history of Guy Fawkes, which is traditionally remembered on Bonfire Night.  
  8. Help familiarise your child with your local MP and councillors as they tend to work on tackling problems in your area that could be of interest to them. While spending time at home, your child could write a letter or email about matters concerning them, like an out of action skate park.

Teaching children to appreciate politics will be beneficial to many aspects of their life. Although it may be hard, you must try not to push your own agenda and try to remember that every individual has the right to their own views. Keep discussions open and encourage personal opinions.

Got any more tips? Let us know on social media!