Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Teaching Kids about Independence Day

For many children, Independence Day is an exciting time to celebrate with fireworks, parades, swimming, and barbecues. Without parents and teachers making an effort to explain why Independence Day is significant, some children may never see it as more than a fun time to wear red, white, and blue. This time of year is a great opportunity to teach children about what makes America different, what Independence Day represents, and what it means to be patriotic.
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Here are some ways that can make this 4th of July have more meaning for your children:

The flag: The next time you see an American flag, point it out to your child and explain why it's important. Help them know it shows we're on the same team as Americans and how to treat the flag with respect. Teach about the symbols and meaning of the different parts of the flag. The 50 stars represent our 50 states. The 13 stripes represent the original 13 British colonies who decided in 1776 that they wanted to live freely and govern themselves rather than be ruled by a king.

The Pledge of Allegiance: Your school-age children have likely recited the Pledge of Allegiance before, but they may not understand what it means. Explain that the pledge means we're making a promise to be loyal (allegiance) to our country, because we can vote for our leaders (republic) and stick together (indivisible) so that everyone can enjoy freedoms (liberty) and be treated fairly (justice). The pledge helps us remember and be grateful that we have special freedoms that many other countries don't have.

National Anthem: At sporting events or while watching the Olympics, children will probably hear The Star-Spangled Banner. Help them understand that it's our country's song and that we show respect to honor America while the song is sung. Teach kids that we stand to face the flag and be silent or sing along with our hands on our hearts. You can also share the story behind the anthem. Francis Scott Key wrote the words during the War of 1812 when he saw the flag still flying after a fierce battle. He wrote the words of the song because the flying flag meant that the country was protected and we still had our freedoms.

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Independence Day: Help kids understand that July 4 is our country's birthday. On July 4, 1776, our country was born! A group of American patriots declared our independence by writing the Declaration of Independence, stating we would rule ourselves instead of being ruled by the King of England and his unfair laws. It was risky and dangerous to rebel against the king of England. He had a powerful military and the American patriots had to continue their battle for freedom during the Revolutionary War. They won the war and set our country on the path to where we are today!

Community involvement: Being a good citizen and working together to keep the community running is another important lesson that kids can learn during this time of year. Help them understand the the importance of voting and why you vote. Depending on your child's age, you can take them to city council meetings, neighborhood gatherings, or the State Legislature and then help them write letters to their elected officials. Volunteering or giving community service as a family is a great way to help send kids a positive message about how we all pitch in as citizens of the United States of America.

Happy Independence Day!

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