Tuesday, November 8, 2016 was Election Day in the United States, our neighbour to the south. Our full day class was positively abuzz with election talk all week. What would a group of Canadian three, four and five year olds know about the American election? Surprisingly, more than you might think.
November 8th began with five year old A. announcing that it was Election Day in the United States! At circle, we sat down together to talk about what an election is.
Five year old L. knew that Hillary Clinton was trying to be the first woman President of the United States.
Three and a half year old M. knew all about Hillary Clinton. He always watched her on his television with Donald Trump. Many of the other children had also seen Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on their televisions.
The children knew that both candidates wanted to win. How would Americans decide on a winner? We spoke about the democratic process. The children already knew about voting, winning and losing. We often vote in class for things, such as which story we would like to hear at circle. Whichever book receives the most votes wins. The children were undecided on who would win the election. Only three and a half year old M. and four year old H. were positively certain that Donald Trump would be the winner. With this in mind, we all awaited the election results.
The next day most of the children knew that Donald Trump had won. Discussing the election results at circle, the children agreed that Donald Trump would be very happy and that Hillary Clinton would be sad. Some knew that even though Hillary Clinton lost, she phoned Donald Trump to congratulate him on his win. When we vote for something in our classroom, like the story we would like to hear, we may not always get what we want. When this happens, we can't cry, stamp our feet and yell "No, no, no!", no matter how much we might want to. Everyone has a voice. When the majority wins, we must accept the result and be gracious in both victory and defeat.
Congratulations to both Secretary Clinton and President-elect Trump on a hard fought campaign.
(Note: This post is about explaining the democratic process to the children in a way that they can relate to. It is not intended as a criticism of the candidates or of the feelings and/or actions of the American people.)