Everyone loves a holiday, especially kids. But introducing Veteran’s Day to your kids can inevitably be a tricky subject. Opening up a discussion might lead to questions that are difficult to answer, like “what is war?” or “why do we have wars?” Children have that unique knack for drilling right into the heart of everything with their surprisingly precocious perceptions!
Knowing your children and understanding their tolerance and temperament is key. Mentally prepare your answers beforehand and have an adaptable strategy to gently direct the conversation accordingly. As many schools will close for Veteran’s Day, perhaps hire a babysitter and plan some fun activities for the kids to celebrate.
Share Kid-Friendly Facts About Veteran’s Day
Having the ability to distill and share kid-friendly information about Veteran’s Day is dependent on knowing the facts yourself. If your knowledge is a little lacking, not to worry! Time for a quick brush-up.
It was 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, when the armistice that officially ended World War I was signed. (An armistice is an agreement made between two opposing sides in a war to stop fighting, though different from a treaty.) Exactly one year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared the day to be Armistice Day. The United States made Armistice Day a national federal holiday in 1938, and many countries still call November 11 Armistice or Remembrance Day to commemorate the end of World War I.
In 1954, Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the holiday’s name to Veteran’s Day. The name was changed to honor the veterans of every U.S. war, not just the First World War. A veteran is any person who has served in the military.
Every year the Veteran’s Day National Ceremony starts promptly at 11 a.m. with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb was originally dedicated in 1921, with the burial of an unidentified American soldier from the First World War.
American flags are lowered to half-mast on Veteran’s Day, just like Memorial Day. However, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are two distinct national holidays. Veteran’s Day venerates all American service people, whereas Memorial Day commemorates those who have died in military service.
Veteran’s Day Cards—Thank Them for Their Service!
There are approximately 19 million veterans currently living in the United States. There is no more appropriate way to teach kids how to celebrate Veteran’s Day than by writing Thank You cards to them! If there are no service members in the family, websites like A Million Thanks or Operation Gratitude make it simple to send cards to active service members and retired veterans.
This free, printable template can provide a handy outline. If you opt to make cards from scratch, folding a standard 8.5 x 11 in. letter-sized paper in half horizontally provides a perfect blank canvas to draw an American flag on the front of your card. Allowing kids to draw the American flag themselves could be a great opportunity to discuss the meaning of the flag.
Create Sweet Treats for the Troops
Show kids the sweet side of expressing gratitude. Making tasty baked goods can turn Veteran’s Day into a fun, memorable experience. Consider taking the kids on a trip to a local Veteran’s Affairs Hospital or home for disabled or aging vets to distribute some sweet treats. This would bring a lot of joy to our aging vets!
Level up your sweets game by turning two cookies into an ice cream cookie sandwich. A similar baked treat idea is the classic whoopie pie. Kids can participate by rolling the sides in patriotic, festive sprinkles.
For a larger sweet treat, bake a flag cake! Make any flavor cake of your choosing, and then frost with white frosting. Arrange blueberries for the stars section, and line raspberries to make the stripes of the flag.
Take a Virtual Trip to a Military Museum
Did you know you can visit museums virtually? Honestly, neither did I. Education providers and conscious caregivers should check out this resource that lists some of the most popular military and war museums and memorials across the globe.
Exploring museums virtually makes cultural learning experiences for children almost universally accessible. This could be a great opportunity on Veteran’s Day to check out different museums around the world, and discuss how wars have global effects.
Watch a Veteran’s Day Parade or Attend a Veteran’s Day Fundraising Event
Every year, New York City hosts the nation’s largest Veteran’s Day parade. Since visiting the Big Apple with kids might not be a viable option for your family, you can also watch the parade live on TV (channel WABC). Has your family cut the cord on cable? No worries! The NYC Veteran’s Day Parade is also live-streamed online.
However, finding local Veteran’s Day fundraising events could be an even more fulfilling way to honor your community’s local veterans. By taking the time and effort to find ways to participate in your community, you teach your children about being an involved citizen.
Veteran’s Day—More Than Just a Day Off
Kids need to understand Veteran’s Day is more than an excuse to sleep in. Regardless of your political ideology, the fact remains that the men and women honored have made sacrifices and served this country with honor and bravery.
Although preparing and planning are vital parts of providing context for your kids, don’t forget to pause and listen. Consider asking your kids what bravery means to them. What freedoms do they enjoy? How can we be grateful every day for the freedoms we have?
You will raise happier, healthier kids if they form daily gratitude habits. However, you don’t have to do it alone. Finding a socially-cognizant babysitter can help expose your children to diversity, building their world views and social skills.
A well-vetted babysitter comes with experience, education, and wisdom, giving you the support you need. Using an app like Nanno—which supplies a network of babysitters and nannies in most metro areas in the United States—can help you find a reliable, quality babysitter.
All Nanno care providers undergo an exhaustive four-step background check, so you can be sure your child will be in good hands with whomever you book. Whether it’s for a few hours, a day off from school like Veteran’s Day, or a more regular engagement—sign up for Nanno today!