In my last blog I invited readers to consider what patriotism is all about and why it is important to inspire our children to become patriotic. I shared how in recent years there has been a deep decline in teaching Civics in our public schools so our children must depend on their families to provide them with information about how our government works and why it is so important to protect our precious freedom.
In this blog I am going to share some of the ways you as a parent or other adult who influences children in your life can promote a sense of patriotism in them. Along the way you might find yourself enhancing your own patriotism! Here are a few suggestions:
- Use holidays to share your own journey of patriotism. When did you first realize you were a citizen of United States. How did it make you feel? What were some of the ways you expressed patriotism as a child?
- Purchase a flag and a way to display it (most people a pole attached to their porch or a window.) Discuss the meaning of the stars, stripes, and colors of the flag.
- Teach them the words of the Pledge of Allegiance. Discuss what the words mean.
- Play the National Anthem and go over the words to explain why we play this at so many events.
- Teach them respectful behavior during the playing of the National Anthem.
- When walking through your neighborhood or on a family trip, see how many flags you can find.
- Show children the correct way to display and fold a flag. You can learn about this from your local scout troop, military installation, or veteran’s organization. You can also go on YouTube for some easy-to-follow videos.
- Talk to kids about ways to honor veterans. Teach them to say, “Thank you for your service” when seeing someone who clearly is a veteran.
- Read them the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Talk about why the writers decided to write what they did.
- Take your children to museums and other public institutions that provide opportunities to learn more about our government and our history. Here are some ideas:
- The National Park Service has the National Register of Historic Places
- Google “Where to find historic places in a city,” and put in the name of a city you are interested in. For example:
- Philadelphia has many wonderful places to explore our country’s history: the Liberty Bell, The National Liberty Museum, The Constitution Center, to name a few.
- Washington DC has many amazing places to explore: the Smithsonian Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, to name a few.
- The capital buildings in each state.
- Visit your local library for patriotic books to read to or with them or check out Amazon for some ideas
- Rent and show patriotic movies. Amazon lists dozens of them (of course check the ratings first).
- PBS has produced several documentaries that explore our country’s history. One very powerful series is Ken Burns’ “The Civil War.”
- Take your children to parades and firework displays (making sure they won’t become overwhelmed by the loud noises!). You may even have opportunities for your children to create floats and be in parades!
- Take children with you if you vote in person or explain voting by mail. Talk about why the voting process is essential.
- Make a family tree. Talk about relatives who served in the armed forces, past and present. Talk about ancestors and why they chose to immigrate to the United States. Personalizing history makes it more relevant.
- Show your children how to write to or visit a local, state or national Senator or Representative to encourage some way to promote a law. Play Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” – you can find it on YouTube.
- Share information from the website CTIPP: Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice
- On patriotic holidays, like Independence Day, discuss the reasons for specific celebrations or observances.
- Explore the many patriotic songs written over the last few hundred years. If you search for “Patriotic Songs,” you’ll find several websites that not only list them but also provide lyrics. I was impressed with the list I found when I Googled, “50 Best Patriotic Songs That Are an Ode to the USA.” It is easy to go to YouTube to have your children listen to some. The Military Family Life website also has several suggestions.
I hope these suggestions provide you with ideas that you can use to help inspire your children to become ever-increasingly patriotic. We need to ensure that our future generations understand and appreciate what went into creating our amazing country and all the freedoms we enjoy and to inspire them to embrace their responsibility to preserve our democracy.
Invitation for Reflection
- Which suggestions can you picture yourself using with the children in your life?
- Is there information in one or both blogs you can share with other family members, friends, your school?