To children, the 4th of July can be all about hot dogs, fireworks and neighborhood parades. To help them understand the meaning of the holiday, here are a few suggestions for discussion.
Take a tour of your town and point out the government buildings – city hall, the courthouse, schools, the post office, the police and fire stations. Explain that the citizens of your town pool their money by paying taxes and this money is used to create and maintain buildings and services that benefit everyone.
Talk about what it means to be an American. Explain that America is a country united in the belief that people should be free to pursue their dreams, live the way they want and earn money the best way they can.
We can be good American citizens by helping those who in need, keeping informed of what is going on in our country and the world, obeying the laws and being responsible for ourselves and our actions. Citizenship also means speaking up when something is wrong and working to correct the problem.
The American Flag is a symbol of our country, our beliefs and our unity as Americans. As such, we show the flag great respect. These are kid-friendly rules regarding the American flag.
America is special. We have freedoms that the citizens of many countries do not. We are free to say what we feel, write about what we think is important and do what we wish within the confines of the law. With this liberty comes great responsibility to use these freedoms for the greater good.
Encourage your children to think about what they can contribute as an American citizen. What can I do to be a better citizen? How can I make sure that my government representatives know what is important to me? Do I see problems? What can I do to help solve these problems? How can I show that I believe in America and am thankful for our freedoms?
The idea of a free nation and the sacrifices that have been made to protect our freedoms may be a big concept for small children. But introducing the subject at an early age sets the groundwork for more discussion and questions later on. And what is more American that the freedom to ask and the freedom to answer?