Both my father and grandfather were in the military – Airforce specifically. As a kid I remember feeling scared and worried that my dad would be taken away to war, to fight, to be in danger. For many years Remembrance Day was nothing but a reminder that I could lose him and my Grandfather too, if it came to him being needed for the cause.
As I grew older I began to understand that it wasn’t likely to happen and I was grateful. I was so grateful for the peace we were living in. Remembrance Day became time to reflect on what all those other children must have felt when their fathers were taken away by war. It became a time to be proud of all those who served and sacrificed, not just their lives, but their family time and peace of mind too. It became a time to be thankful that we are Canadian and what that means. Here are some ways you can teach your kids about Remembrance Day.
If your kids are small, begin teaching them what a country is. Kids are visual so get out a map or globe or an app on your tablet to show them what borders are. Show them where we live, show them where our neighbours are. It’s hard for them to conceptualize the vast size but as a concept, kids will understand that a country is like a home for all the citizens who live there. Tell them that we have a lot to be proud of as Canadians and that our Canadian people come from all over the world to this home.
Focus on Peace
Canadians are known for our peace keeping efforts and peace is what affords us the freedoms and privileges we have now. Peace is the goal of war. Teach what it means to live in peaceful times and that all the soldiers from past wars were doing whatever they had to do so that we could have what we have now. That means going to school, having grocery stores stocked with food, being able to make art and dance and be ourselves. It’s all because we live in peace.
Share meaningful symbolism and art
Kids will notice that the poppy is about Remembrance Day though they might not know why or what that means. Introduce the concept of a symbol – a picture that represents something much larger. Explain that the poppy represents something beautiful coming from all the hard times of war. Teach them that wearing it shows respect to those who gave everything so that we can live in peace. The poppy reminds us to think about them and the gift they gave to us when we see it.
If you’d like more information on teaching Remembrance Day to children of all ages, Veteran’s Affairs has a fantastic resource page.