Veterans Day: Kids Serve, Too!

By Krysia Gabenski

Veterans Day is fast approaching. It’s a day when people across the U.S. take time to thank servicemembers from all branches of the military for their service and sacrifice on behalf of our country.

With long deployments to anywhere from natural disaster-stricken areas stateside to warzones overseas, it’s easy to see why we need (at the very least) a day to recognize the sacrifices and service of our nation’s military members. Often, kids are shielded from the details of their parents’ deployments, but the fact remains that servicemembers are absent from their children’s lives while they’re off helping others and protecting national interests. For a child, that’s a lot to take in. How can educators help? Recognize military kids serve, too. Here are some ways to do that.

  • Thank a military child. Simple enough, right? Sometimes without even realizing it, children carry a lot of weight on their shoulders while a parent is deployed. A simple “thank you” will make these children feel recognized. Thank them for being strong. Thank them for sharing their parent with our country. Thank them for being brave enough to start new schools every 2 years.
  • Send thank-you cards to deployed parents. Make it a school-wide project. If you have students whose parents are deployed, have students from each class write notes to thank them for their service. Then find out their address, and mail the notes. I wasn’t a military kid, but one of my most vivid memories from elementary school is writing to servicemembers who were deployed as part of Operation Desert Storm. It’ll leave a lasting impression with the servicemembers, too.
  • Give them a platform. Military children often travel the world with their servicemember parents. Let them talk about it in a presentation to their classmates. What have they learned from traveling? What cool things have they seen and done? What’s it like to have a parent in the military? It’ll give the child a sense of pride, and it’ll teach non-military children a lot about the lifestyle.
  • Make their transition as easy as possible. Not all servicemembers deploy, but pretty much every single one has PCSed (made a “permanent change-of-station move), and kids come along for the ride. The epitome of bad timing, this usually occurs right around the time when they start making real connections with other students at school. Then, imagine moving schools in the middle of number recognition lessons and entering a school in a different state that’s already finished those lessons and has moved on to learning about greater than, less than, or equal to. It becomes overwhelming to them, to say the least, as they start to feel behind on their schooling. When welcoming a military kid into your school, reach out to his or her former teacher and principal so you can ensure a smoother transition.    

Military families are among the strongest out there. Military kids are no exception. They often face challenges above and beyond what non-military children face. So this Veterans Day, thank them for their service, too.

Krysia Gabenski is the digital communication associate at NAESP.

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