More than Fireworks

Most kids would tell you that July 4 is a day to celebrate with family and friends. Some will tell you about fireworks. Others are excited about food. It takes a little more time to help kids to understand the true meaning behind the holiday.

This week our school age kids learned about respecting the flag, how to fold the flag, the history of the United States, the people of our past and about those serving our country. The kids did a great job and we are thankful that we all had that hands-on opportunity to learn about some of the meaning behind Independence Day.

Students learn how to fold the American flag correctly

Students learned how to fold the American flag correctly

For young children, sometimes giving them a sense of the day’s meaning is as simple as helping them to understand that July 4 is sometimes called the birthday of America. Freedom is a pretty deep subject for a preschool student but not one that is out of reach. Helping kids understand that there are places in the world where people can’t do the things we enjoy doing here in America is eye-opening and helps them live with a spirit of gratitude.

In my family, we have done our best to introduce our daughters to the idea of remembering those who have gone before us. We try to help them understand that there are men and women who protect our country, and that it is important to show our gratitude. We teach them to show respect to the flag and to men and women in uniform.

Most recently, we took our girls to a beautiful Memorial Day Ceremony in Yankton, SD. I was proud and thankful that as we walked up through the aisles of American flags and toward the many veterans gathering our girls grew quiet. They have been taught at school, at their after-school program and at home to have respect for the flag and those that defend it. They are beginning to understand freedom and respect.

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This weekend and throughout the summer, consider discussing ways you can help your children connect with the purpose of this holiday and some of what you believe makes America great.

  • Take a moment as you wait for a fireworks display to begin or over a meal to talk about why your family celebrates Independence Day and what living in America means to you.
  • When you go to a parade or event, before it is time for the flag or National Anthem, tell your children how they can show respect and why it is important.
  • Talk about what stars, stripes and colors of the flag mean.
  • Visit the library for age appropriate books about the history of the United States. There are also many great web pages.
  • Visit veterans in a long-term care facility.
  • Create and send a care package, note, or colored picture to a member of the military.
  • Help your child relate by connecting them with children who experience the sacrifice of having a parent serving in the military. A great way to do this is through Operation Military Kids.

Enjoy your celebrations and be safe!

-Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare and Education Services

Visit our previous post on Celebrating the Fourth of July Safely.

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