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How to Talk to Kids about The Inauguration

Paul Weaver inauguration photo @paulweaver
by Melanie Gasmen-Fleck & photo by Paul Weaver 

Guest blogger Brittany Richman runs civic-minded parenting blog The American Moms with her twin sister, Andrea. They’re both political junkies and have worked in Washington D.C.—one as a former White House staffer and the other as a former staffer on Capitol Hill. Together, they’ve built The American Moms into a go-to parenting resource that helps you break down civics and current events to your child. Bookmark The American Moms and follow The American Moms on Instagram to stay up-to-date on their expert advice.

This year’s inauguration is monumental and historic. We are so excited to see Kamala Harris sworn in as the first woman and the first Black and Asian-American vice president in American history. What an incredible accomplishment! We'll be watching with our kids and can't wait for the discussions this will foster with them.
To give your kids some insight into the history of a typical inauguration, check out the post below by The American Moms.

Inauguration Day gives parents an incredible opportunity to discuss our country’s rich history, traditions, and the importance of the 35 words of the presidential oath of office. Those words were so important that our Founders included them in our Constitution. 

Do your children know the importance of Inauguration Day? Here are some tips for teaching them. You never know what learning about it and viewing the inauguration for themselves will inspire in them!

TEACHING OUR KIDS

Start off with these discussions beforehand.

1. Don't assume your kids will think watching the inauguration ceremony is boring. Their interest in it may surprise you—especially if you prepare them before the ceremony.

2. Even if you didn't vote for the person who will be our next president, Inauguration Day is still an important part of American tradition. It's the day the president-elect becomes president! 2021's Inauguration Day is especially historic because the new vice president Kamala Harris, who will also be sworn in that day, will be not only the first woman vice president but also the first Black and Asian-American vice president!

3. The entire Inauguration Day is steeped in tradition. Instead of focusing on who won the election and who didn't, focus on the traditions involved. These are all planned by a special committee made up of members of Congress, called the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. 

Those traditional events include a special procession from the White House to the Capitol, the swearing-in ceremony, an inaugural address, an honorary departure, a signing ceremony, an inaugural luncheon, and something called a Pass in Review, also known as the inaugural parade. The day ends with fancy inaugural balls. You can read more about what the special planning committee does.

4. What does it take to be president? Do you know the qualifications? Read more about them.

5. Talk about the presidential oath of office. Read it with your child: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Why are these words so important? 

INVOLVING OUR KIDS 

In addition to having conversations beforehand, here are pointers on what to pay attention to during the ceremony and some simple activities to get them excited.

1. Have your children write a letter to the new president or a letter to the outgoing president thanking him for his service (or both). Have them think about what they'd like to ask the president. What would they want him to do during his presidency? Did you know you can also email the president? If you're lucky, they'll even write you back!

2. The inauguration ceremony involves more than just the oath of office (though that's definitely the most important part). There will be bands playing, choirs singing, poets reciting, etc. Pay attention to the performances and talk about why you think they were selected. 

3. After the inaugural address is given, discuss what your child thinks was the most important thing said and why. What was the mood? Were there concerns? What would they have said if they were president? Have them write their own inaugural address and keep it in their journal to remember this part of history!

4. Play "Inaugural I Spy." And check out other fun games, where you can also learn more about inaugural history.

5. Talk to your kids about all the inaugural balls and parties the new president usually gets to attend. There won't be an inaugural ball this year due to COVID but you could always get dressed up and have your own at-home inaugural ball. 

6. Plan a presidential trip. Visit a presidential historical site, a presidential library, or take a virtual tour from your own home.

7. Don't wait for the next Inauguration Day to get your kids thinking civic-mindedly! Visit whitehouse.gov periodically to see what the president is up to!