Veterans Day may go unnoticed by kids, as it is right between Halloween and Thanksgiving. It’s not a particularly child-friendly holiday, as it involves a lot of abstract concepts that children may not understand. To understand Veterans Day, you have to understand what a hero is, what a war is and why people fight in them. There aren’t a lot of educational resources to help parents of small children understand Veterans Day. That’s why it’s important for parents to call attention to this holiday and teach children about its significance.
It’s also important to help your children understand the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Often people tend to mix these two holidays up. Memorial Day honors fallen military members, while Veterans Day honors all veterans, living or no longer living.
Teach Your Kids About Veterans
Kids may get the idea that veterans are only men and women in uniform, living on military bases or active soldiers. If children aren’t familiar with military families, veterans may be an abstract concept. Veterans we celebrate include former members of the military as well, so it’s important to tell your children who you are celebrating on Veterans Day. Explain the importance of the military and tell your children we enjoy freedom and safety because of these brave men and women. Talk about people your children know who are veterans, like family friends, friends’ parents, family members, teachers, etc. Talk about what it’s like to be a soldier and what their jobs entail. Talk about the sacrifices that soldiers make for our freedom, like their personal safety, family time, special events with their kids and holidays.
Teaching kids about who veterans are and why we should be thankful to them is important, but there’s no better way to teach gratitude than to model it. Children don’t always listen to what we say, but they’re always watching what we do, and whether consciously or subconsciously, they are learning by our examples. Be a good role model for your children by thanking veterans for their service when you see them. Explain to your children why you say thank you to veterans. Modeling gratitude in general sets a great example for kids. Thank veterans by filling out cards and mailing them. Visit a local VA hospital and bring baked goods. Spend time with a veteran. Make a care package for a military member overseas or do something helpful for a military family in your community while their veteran is overseas.
Create Veterans Day Projects
Because Veterans Day involves so many abstract concepts, creating arts and crafts related to the day can give children a concrete, visual lesson about what Veterans Day is. You could consider creating a flag poster and in each star you can write the name of a veteran. When you’re done, display the flag in your home for Veterans Day.
You can draw pictures with your child and send them to Wounded Warriors programs. If your child is old enough to write, you can write letters together. Draw pictures of what a hero means to you and hang them up on the refrigerator. These concrete reminders of Veterans Day can help children better understand and celebrate Veterans Day in an age- and developmentally-appropriate way.
Veterans Day is more than just a day to stay home from school and work. It’s a day to honor everyone who has served in military service. Teaching children about Veterans Day early on will help them appreciate the freedom we enjoy in our country and the brave men and women who protect us. For information on how Sparkles! presents Veterans Day and other special days, contact your child’s teacher or a staff member.