Are you a military member with children? Are you an educator with military children in your classroom? Did you know that April is the Military Child Appreciation Month? In today’s blog, I will talk a little bit about Military Child Month, why it is important to acknowledge how stressful military children lives can be, and what we can do to as providers to show them they are appreciated.
Notably, we can define military children as “children of military members,” but they are so much more than that. They were groomed from day one to be strong and resilient. For instance, military children must adapt to stressful situations like PCS-ing and deployments in addition to the everyday struggles of being a kid (i.e. grades, bullies, puberty). At the same time, this environment forces them to be more adaptable than their peers. Unfortunately, you can say they have a lot on their plate. However, the use of recognition and affirmations can alleviate some of this stress. Here is how you can do it!
Organize a breakfast or luncheon
Send out an invite to all military children to ask parents or family members to attend a breakfast or luncheon. If this is not possible. You could have a special table set up for the month, so military children can “stand out” amongst all the children in the cafeteria during lunch. If your school is not tracking the military children (most schools track their military-affiliated children due funding), encourage teachers to take a poll in their classes. Understand, some children might not understand their parents are in the military, so sending a flyer out will assist with getting an accurate number of students to participate.
Dress-up for “Purple Up” Day
This is simply heading out and grabbing a purple t-shirt, and wearing it to school. The color purple was chosen because if you mix all the colors of the branches together, it will form purple. Encourage the entire school to participate! As mentioned previously, send out a flyer reminding parents of the day so they can purchase shirts for their children. Ahead of time, inform the children on why it is important to celebrate the day. “Purple Up” Day is April 24th this year.
Another creative way to celebrate the military child is to pick a few students to conduct the morning announcements. This will make the children a bit more responsible because they have been chosen to report the latest news happening at the school, and it also boosts confidence during a time the children need it most.
Military-Related Poster Collage
Have all teachers assign their classes to create military-related collages to post around the school. This could easily be done by letting the students research military-related images on Google, or ask military students to bring in military magazines to use (trust me their parent has some type of military magazine that they receive in the mail). Once students have finished putting their collages together, post the collages around the school. This way military students and parents can admire the artwork. Additionally, you could celebrate your local military children by assigning a child to each poster board, in which students would include fun facts/adventures the military children have experienced due to their parent’s military affiliation.
For this next one, you may need a bit of preparation. Consider posting a world map in a central location for students and faculty to see. Ask students and faculty to place a pin on all the areas they have visited due to their military-affiliation. The board will fill up before you know it!
Military Member Guest Speaker
This will take a little effort to set up, however, reaching out to the parents and asking for a guest speaker can be a way to connect with the military community. Having a guest speaker come speak to the students about how their military career has impacted their children. This will put a visual of what military children are experiencing. Plus, it is coming from a viable source.
Lastly, you can ask students to bring in any military memorabilia they have received during their travels, and share it during a show-n-tell. Students will explain where they received the piece, and why that particular item holds importance. This will give students an outlet to show their personality without judgment.
In conclusion, we discussed a lot of ways you as providers can celebrate the military child. We all have to play our part in reassuring our children that they matter and that they are not invisible. They may be young, but children go through a great deal of stress. It is our responsibility as adults to help them through their difficult times, instead of brushing their pain off. Hug and love on our babies so they can grow into strong resilient young men and women.
To see a more detailed breakdown of how to celebrate our military children, click the video below: