Making Politics Relevant to Fifth Graders

On October 19, Canadians from Halifax to Victoria went to the polls and elected The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau as the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada. In fact, St-Laurent Academy’s 5th graders also predicted the Trudeau win during a mock election!

Living in the nation’s capital, students in Ottawa know all too well the significance of this election, which saw Trudeau’s Liberals form a majority government with 184 seats. In fact, Ottawa had the highest turnout in all of Canada, with 78% of eligible Ottawa electors making their voices heard at the ballot box.

This was the longest election cycle in Canadian history, and as a result students in our Grade 5 Social Studies course were able to do a deep-dive into the campaign and election process. We studied the platform promises of each candidate for Prime Minister. Students visited the websites for each federal political party and evaluated the three platform planks (policies) that they most and least agreed with. Students learned a lot about the federal election and got to see the shaping of our country’s future first-hand.

For St-Laurent Academy students, the importance of the 2015 Federal Election did not end on election night, nor on November 4th when Trudeau was sworn in as Prime Minister, nor when the 42nd Parliament opens on December 3rd. Our students have an unprecedented opportunity to observe the transition to a new government first-hand. Throughout the year, our students will keep a close eye on the news to see how Trudeau and the Liberal government deliver on platform promises.

We encourage our students to be well-rounded, politically minded, and social engaged. Here are some things parents and children can do at home to keep the momentum from the election going forward:

  • Read local papers like The Ottawa Citizen and Le Droit and national papers like The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and The Hill Times to get different perspectives on political
  • Read, listen, or watch Canadian news sources like CBC, CTV News, CPAC, and Global News for late-breaking coverage.
  • Follow news sources, politicians, and political commentators on Twitter and Facebook for quick tidbits of information – but remember only so much can be said in 140 characters. Dig deeper for the full story.
  • Discuss politics at the dinner table. What do you think the best/worst proposed policies are? If you were Prime Minister, what would you do first?
  • Remember, politics runs far deeper than the national level. Make sure you observe the actions of your local Member of Parliament (MP). Also keep an eye on your Premier, MPP, and municipal representatives like the Mayor and your City Councillor.
  • Get involved in local politics! Volunteer with Elections Canada when you’re older. Hand out flyers for a candidate who you agree with. What about running for office when you reach the age of majority?

At St-Laurent Academy, we believe it’s incredibly important to make politics relevant. Especially in Canada’s capital city and with the great team we have, there’s no better place than St-Laurent Academy to learn about politics in Canada.

Recommended Read: Ms. Russell shared with students and parents a comprehensive article from Anna Mehler Paperny at Global News which details the platform promises made by Trudeau and the Liberals.