I fondly remember the Weekly Reader Presidential Election that we used to vote in when I was attending elementary school back in the good, ole analog days. It was my introduction to politics (and third-party politics at that, as 28 years ago I cast my vote for John Anderson). But I grew up in New Jersey, and since this is the epicenter of politics in America, it only makes sense that our kids get an earlier start on understanding the political process. Thus, it wasn’t surprising when I learned that one of our Preschool classes, in accordance with the project-based educational method of Reggio Emilia that our Preschools employ, had chosen to study the current election. What was surprising is the degree of detail these 4-year-olds are already familiar with, as demonstrated by their concept-web below:
The concept web is a product of “brainstorming” sessions about the topic (in this case elections) to which both the students and teachers make contributions. An amusing case in-point: on the spoke labelled “campaigns” a child named Anna has added the sub-topic of “Get Money.” Clearly Anna is a campaign finance chair in-the-making.
The concept web helps shape the focus of the project and allows the teachers to respond to an emerging curriculum in which age-appropriate skills (basic literacy and numeracy) are taught through the children’s chosen topic. The concept web is posted in the classroom to help guide continuing debriefings as the project proceeds over weeks or months.
The project next moves into an exploration stage, one part of which was the kids listing what the next president should do. So, in case any of the candidates plan to be canvassing DC looking for votes in-advance of the Potomac Primary on Tuesday, February 12 (when DC, VA and MD will all hold primaries) they should be prepared to address their bona-fides on the following Presidential priorities: