How To Talk with Kids About Democracy in America

The U.S. Capitol building

Kids are going to have questions about yesterday’s events in Washington, D.C.

America’s democratic ideals and processes suffered an attack yesterday as an armed mob stormed the Capitol while the Electoral College votes were being certified. It was frightening to watch the scenes of chaos both inside and outside the building, and to think about what the event might mean for the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.

Children are going to have a lot of questions and opinions for their caretakers and teachers about the events of January 6. Our job as adults is to explain what happened in terms they can understand, and to emphasize the history that brought us to this point. What is democracy? What is the mob protesting? Who gets to decide who is president? What do all of the governmental processes accomplish?

This is a long conversation – a whole social studies unit – that can’t be accomplished in one day, but getting a better idea of democracy is an important first step.


How does democracy work?

Explain America’s democracy with this sample chapter. This is a good jumping off point for classroom discussions.

Civic Unrest "Investigate the Struggle for Social Change" book Cover Nomad Press

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