It’s the first week of November, which means that Remembrance Day is just around the corner. As a granddaughter of a World War II veteran, I was brought up in a very patriotic family and Remembrance Day was always a sacred day. Of course, we had assemblies at school and did poppy-themed crafts. But, I had real-life stories to listen to and actual memorabilia to finger, which made history come alive for me and ingrained in me a deep respect, understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices of our armed forces and peacekeepers at home and abroad.
I now have children of my own, and I am saddened that they never got to meet their great-grandfather, who passed away three years before Cat was born. My girls won’t get to have that part of living history in their lives, the way I did. But I am determined that I raise them to be proud Canadians with a global understanding and empathy towards others. The challenge of course, is, how much do you teach them, and when? With topics as complex as war and peace, what is age-appropriate?
I was relieved when I stumbled across this beautiful post from a Salt Spring Island, B.C. blogger, Hannah, at The Big To-Do List. Hannah is a mom and an ECE, and her advice on how to honour Remembrance Day with kids is written in a simple, straightforward and caring way. Lots of great tips there- I especially like the origiami crane idea and the encouragement to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony with your child. In fact, that is something I have done with Cat.
When my girls are older, we will tell them more specific details about their relatives on both sides of the family who were involved in the war, and how Canadians in this day and age are working hard to protect our country here and abroad, what peacekeeping is all about, and tangible ways that we can help others who are living in war-torn countries in modern times. For now, they are eager to wear poppies (because they like decorations), look through old family photo albums and whisper in awe when they hear bagpipes in the last stand.
How do you “remember” with your kids?
Editor’s note: I also want to share with you this amazing organization called the Memory Project, which works to collect, maintain and archive veterans stories and memorabilia through digitization. My grandfather volunteered for the Memory Project in his later years, speaking at elementary schools about his experiences. His bio is listed on their site. I encourage any educators to use this service if you can- there are some excellent resources to use in the classroom.