What We Taught Our Kids On Polling Day: 'It's Vital They Know It's Important'

Parents are educating their kids about the General Election and how to vote – and starting them young.
jaclynwr via Getty Images

Like many parents, I took my children with me to the polling station today. My three-year-old didn’t really get it – and after attempting to explain the rudiments of the general election using Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, I gave up.

But my seven-year-old surprised me by having her own thoughts on why it’s important to vote: “We learned about the suffragettes at school!” she told me, cheerily. She even commented on the current NHS debate, telling me, “I think we need to keep hospitals free because if you’re poor, you’re more likely to get ill because you don’t have food”.

It’s surprising how much our children pick up, and while it can be hard working out how to explain things to them (try talking through the intricacies of Brexit), if we involve our kids in important decisions, we’re teaching them that all voices matter. Here, HuffPost UK readers tell us why that’s so important.

‘I never want my daughter to feel that politics isn’t important’

Kirsty Spencer took her six-year-old daughter Ariana to vote in South Birmingham.

Ariana, age 6
Kirsty Spencer
Ariana, age 6

“I took my daughter to the polling station with me today as I feel it’s vital that children know how important voting is, why we do it and the fight women had to be able to vote.

“I see many women who don’t vote and simply don’t care about politics, and I never want my daughter to feel that politics isn’t important.”

‘I told her we were voting to decide who would be in charge of the country’

Ami Amin took her daughter Anni, three, to vote in Pinner, Ruislip and Northwood

Ami and Anni, three.
Ami Amin
Ami and Anni, three.

“Our polling station is at a small church at the bottom of our road so we took our daughter, who’s on school holidays, on the way to work. My husband thought kids wouldn’t be allowed in as he had to wait outside as a young child when his mum went to vote. Meanwhile, Anni thought there’d be a train there because we said it was the polling ’station’!

“She didn’t quite know what was going on, but I told her we were voting to decide who would be in charge of the country and then I talked her through every step: this is the paper where I write my vote, I’ll do it in this booth, then put in this box. She was fascinated – mostly by all the Christmas decorations and art work by young kids on the walls as the church is also a playgroup – but she had a nice chat with the man who ticked our names off, too.”

‘My nine-year-old wants to be able to vote’

Lucie Stephens took her daughter Arietta, nine, to vote in Hackney South and Shoreditch.

Arietta
Lucie Stephens
Arietta

“My mum, who died a few years ago, always took me to vote with her and made sure I registered to vote as soon as I was able to. My daughter regularly attends school strikes and doesn’t want to leave the EU. We subscribe to ‘The Week Junior’ so she is aware of, and informed about, the political situation.

“I think taking her to vote helps demystify the process and turns it into a habit for her in the future. She’s read plenty of books about the Suffragettes and understands that women (and others) haven’t always had the right to vote.

“She wants to be able to vote now – but she’s only nine! I’ll continue to encourage her engagement.”

‘I tell my kids we should never take our right to vote for granted’

Roh Yakobi took his six-year-old daughter, Roya, to vote in Wolverhampton South West.

Roya, six.
HuffPost UK
Roya, six.

“Elections and taking part in them is an important civic responsibility for me. We’ve always taken our kids with us to observe us vote or push the ballot for us.

“Also, given my background as a refugee, I know only too well what it means to be able to vote. By taking my children with me, I also tell them why we should never take our right to participate in the democratic process for granted.”

‘We don’t want our son growing up not voting because he doesn’t understand it’

Jade Hampton took her son Finn, three, to vote in Audley, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Finn, three
Jade Hampton
Finn, three

“My partner and I took Finn to vote with us because we want to teach him about what it means and why we do it. We don’t want him growing up not voting because he doesn’t understand it enough, like so many unfortunately do.

“We also want him to remember that his parents did their best for him in every way, including exercising their democratic right, by always voting with him in mind and his best interests.”

‘I want my daughter to grow up understanding the process of voting’

Tamsin Gardner took her two-year-old daughter Grace to vote in Brentwood.

Grace, two.
Tamsin Gardner
Grace, two.

“I took my daughter along with me to vote because even though she’s young, I want her to grow up understanding the process of voting and how we can, and should, exercise our democratic right to have a voice.

“I’m a feminist and I believe, as women, it’s important we teach our young the sacrifices that were made to have this voice. Less than half of the world have this luxury so we should use it. I’ve never missed a vote in my nearly 12 years of being able to do so, and it will always stay that way.”

“In the photo, I said to her ‘put your hands in the air if you voted!’ I want her to be proud to vote when she’s older and understand the importance it has.”

‘We’re in a marginal seat, so we’ve discussed tactical voting’

Sam Giles took her daughter Bea, six, to vote in Cheltenham.

Bea, six.
Sam Giles
Bea, six.

“I’ve taken my daughter, Bea, to vote with me every time there’s been an election or referendum.

“She’s six now and we talk about why it’s important to vote, what democracy is and what the different parties and candidates stand for. We’re in Cheltenham, which is a marginal seat, so this year we’ve also discussed tactical voting.”

‘I want my son to understand how it all works’

Juliet Kemp took her son Leon, seven, to vote in Bermondsey and Old Southwark.

Leon, seven.
Juliet Kemp
Leon, seven.

“I want my son to understand about elections and voting, why it’s important, and how it all works. Plus, he’s home educated so it would be awkward not to bring him!

“I think coming along with his parents and knowing that we think it’s important to vote makes him more likely to think that way himself – and thus to make sure he votes, when he’s 18.”

‘There was no reason for my daughter not to come with me to vote’

Daniel Ocock took his daughter Phoebe, two, to vote in Penistone, South Yorkshire.

Daniel and Phoebe, two.
Daniel Ocock
Daniel and Phoebe, two.

“I was voting in South Yorkshire in the Penistone area today and Phoebe came with me as there was no reason for her not to. I run my own business, and being able to involve myself with my children like this is one of my core values.

“I’m hoping my wife will take our son Oliver, who is seven, later – and try her best to explain why we post bits of paper in a black box!”

‘My son had a great time telling his classmates he had been to vote!’

Lisa Shelton took her son Sebastian, five, to vote in Coventry North.

Sebastian, five.
Lisa Shelton
Sebastian, five.

“I’m a huge believer in how politics shapes our behaviours and outlook in life. It was important for me to take Sebastian for him to understand that we were voting for ‘the boss’ and we have a choice in what kind of world we live in.

“He had a great time telling his classmates he had been to vote!”

‘It’s their present and future we’re making decisions over’

Jo Littler took her daughter Isla, who’s nine, to vote in Walthamstow.

Isla, nine.
Jo Littler
Isla, nine.

“The polling station was on the way to school anyway, but I also took my daughter because it’s useful for kids to learn about how voting and politics works. It’s their present and future we’re making decisions over!

“She wanted me to vote for her invented party, ‘the Green Rose party’, but sadly, it wasn’t on the ballot!”