Table Talk: Family Conversations about Current Events

  • For Parents, Families, and Caregivers
Family Sitting Around Table at Mealtime
Bigstock

About Table Talk

Families often want to discuss news stories and other timely societal events. It's a great opportunity to engage children in rich conversation, share important values and encourage lifelong interest in the news. These talks can happen on the way to school, during a walk or over a meal. Research shows that dinnertime conversation benefits the health, emotional and academic outcomes for children of all ages. Each Table Talk guide below includes a topic summary, questions to start the conversation and dig deeper, ideas to take action and additional resources.

Here are some tips for discussion:

  • Find out what young people know and use the summary information to expand upon their prior knowledge. Ask what else they want to know and research together to learn more. 
  • When discussing the topic, ask young open ended questions that deepen the conversation. Be mindful not to judge their responses and listen thoughtfully.   
  • Think together about a child-level action they can take; this can be something they do on their own or something you do together or as a family.       

Let's Talk about Voting!

Hands hold a piece of paper with the message "Your Vote Matters"

iStock

In its simplest terms, voting is an act of expressing your opinion. Whether you participate in a poll, take an online survey or vote in the Presidential election, you are expressing an opinion or point of view with your vote. Merriam Webster defines voting as “to express one's views in response to a poll” or “to express an opinion.”

In political elections, people vote for a variety of offices and laws. This includes local elections (e.g., Mayor, City Council person, Judge), state elections (e.g., State Senator, Governor) and national elections (U.S. House of Representatives, Senator, President). Voting for citizen-initiated ballot measures like referendums, ballot initiatives and recall elections is also an important part of voting. Learning about those measures in advance is essential.

Engage your family in a discussion about the purpose and process of voting as well barriers to and discrimination in voting.


What is the Electoral College and Why Is it Controversial?

Electoral College Map Numbers by State in the U.S.

The Electoral College is an election topic that inspires confusion, controversy and conflict. Many people know that the Electoral College is part of the Presidential election process but may be unsure about its importance and how it works.

In the early days of our country’s formation, deciding on the process for electing a U.S. President was a controversial topic. Some suggested that Congress should choose the President. Others argued that it should be a democratic vote by the people. The compromise was the Electoral College, which has been in effect ever since.


 

Previous Table Talks

What is Net Neutrality?

On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to dismantle net neutrality regulations that were passed in 2015. Discuss with youth what net neutrality means and how this veto will impact people’s ability to express their thoughts and ideas online.

Hate Symbols

We see symbols every day in all aspects of our lives. Lately, a proliferation of hate symbols is increasing concern. Use this discussion guide to engage youth in conversations about swastikas and other hate symbols.