Yesterday I asked my daughter how she thought her school should celebrate the upcoming Month of the Military Child. Her immediate answers ranged from the silly (“We could have a teacher dance-off and skip homework for a month!”) to the wishful (“Do you think we could get extra recess every day?” or “I just want to finally go on a field trip.”).
After several minutes of more serious thought my ten year-old daughter replied, “Mom, I feel like we don’t need to be appreciated. We’re not that important.”
Not important?! My heart sank.
My daughter doesn’t realize that her life and the people around her are anything extraordinary because this military lifestyle is all she has ever known. Mid year moves, exploring the country and meeting new friends every couple of years are all a part of her normal. We choose to see these challenges as opportunities. That’s pretty important!
Month of the Military Child is all about recognizing our 2 million military kids for the important role they play in the military family, and for highlighting the challenges and celebrating the opportunities that are a part of being a military kid.
Should you plan a special Month of the Military Child event for your classroom or school? Absolutely! (We even created a 12 page, downloadable guide to show you how.) A party that celebrates your military kids is never a bad idea. Get ready to roll out the purple carpet!
But in between the big events, it’s important to remember that it’s also the everyday little things that can make a big difference. You can plan several small moments during the month of April to celebrate this “life like no other.”
Need some help? Here are a dozen ideas to get you started on a fantastic Month of the Military Child:
- Acknowledge that you have military kids in your classroom and that your whole class is richer because of it. As a class, create a poster, banner, or poem that you can display every day to show your military kid pride!
- Read stories about the challenges and triumphs of military kids. Where can you find great stories about the lives of military kids past and present? Check out our award-winning magazine, MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE!
- Invite a grown up military brat to visit your class and share their stories. Kids love to learn about what life was like in the “old days.”
- Bring back “Show and Tell.” Post a schedule in your classroom and give your military kids the opportunity to share something about themselves or show a photo or item that represents something positive in their military life.
- Create a class travel guide. Include the places, near and far, your military kids have visited or lived.
- Connect your military kids with their larger community. With a little research and a few permissions, consider setting up a classroom pen pal exchange with another military-connected school.
- Create a Military Kid Time Capsule for your school that can be opened by arriving military kids the following year. Have your students include letters to new students, drawings of the school, tips on their new home, and a small memento that can make them feel welcome in their new community.
- Respect that not every military kid wants to be known as a military kid, and many don’t want to walk around with that label. Remember that while your students are military kids, they are also “regular” kids who like to play soccer, collect Pokemon cards, or prefer pizza over pot roast.
- Show them their “why.” Connect them with soldiers, past and present. Reach out to the Public Affairs Office at your local military installation to find out about school/unit sponsorship programs.
- Set aside time each day for your students to share. Play a quick getting to know you game like “Find Someone Who” or “Finish My Sentence.” Even after many months together you are bound to learn something new about your students. For more quick activities, be sure to download our Educator’s Guides, available with each issue of MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE.
- Write “Future Me” letters. What do your military kids hope to be or do in their future? Do they have a place they would love to visit, return to, or move to? Encourage each child to write a letter to themselves in a year, when they PCS (permanent change of station move), or when they graduate high school. The tricky part is finding a safe place to keep it!
- Individually or as a class, research military kids who grew up to be community leaders, sports figures, writers, etc. (There are A LOT of them!)
At Chameleon Kids we often say that Month of the Military Child lasts all year. By incorporating these thoughtful ideas during the month of April, you might find you get in the habit of celebrating your military kids throughout the school year, too.
(And while you’re at it, throw in an extra recess or two. Trust us: your military kids won’t mind!)