Our sweet little Dandelion children sacrifice so much and they deserve recognition and thanks. They did not choose this life – this military life was chosen for them.
They move states or countries away when the orders fall.
My own children are only preschoolers and my 3 year old has lived in 4 states! This military life is no joke and the kid’s go through struggles at very young ages.
Military children go days, weeks, month, years without seeing one of their parents.
I see it in my own toddlers. They have anxiety. My sweet babies cry when Daddy leaves the house. He could be leaving just for the day to work his 9-5 but they don’t understand the difference. For all they know, they won’t see him again for months.
They make friends fast. They have to.
There will be no life-long friends for my kiddos. Or at least not in the same sense that the civilian child has where two friends attend school together kindergarten-12th grade. My kids will move every few years and be forced to start over in the friend department. I know they will thrive though. It’s real-life. It’s hard but they will learn that friendships don’t just happen. Friendships are made. You have to put yourself out there and create friendships.
They understand sacrifice in their own way.
Military children know that we have our freedoms thanks to brave servicemen and women. They understand that freedom isn’t free and that they played a part in the sacrifice it takes to have the freedoms we enjoy.
They don’t take those freedoms for granted because they sacrificed years of their childhood. Years of their childhood with their mommy or daddy were sacrificed and can never be gotten back. But they understand, or will one day understand, that someone has to sacrifice – and so they do. Military children paint welcome home signs, are masters of FaceTime, and can throw a care package together like it’s nothing. And they understand that sometimes, when Daddy is gone, momma orders pizza because we’re all tired and we all sacrifice in one way or another.
Military kids have a unique perspective and their sacrifices shouldn’t be forgotten. Let’s celebrate the sacrifices that military kids make in the Month of the Military Child – April.
Ways to Celebrate the Month of the Military Child
1. Purple Up
Purple is the color of the military child. In 1986, April was designated the month of the military child and Purple is the official color of the military child. You may ask why we don’t use Red, White, or Blue or even a camo green? Purple was granted as being the most inclusive of all the branches. This month is not just about Army brats or Air Force brats – it’s about all the servicemember’s kids! So #PurpleUp it is!
April 15th is the official Purple Up day so make sure you sport purple gear on at least this day!
2. Decorate your School
Decorate your hallway purple in the month of April to honor military kiddos. Have a spirit week – days for wearing purple, camo, or Red, White, & Blue.
3. Have a Service Member Speak
Ask a service member or veteran to come speak in your classroom. Ask them to share some of their experiences of what it’s like to be in the military.
4. FaceTime a Deployed Service Member
Is one of your students the child of a deployed service member? Talk with their guardian and see if you can coordinate a Skype call during class. Let the military child show their friends how they connect with their serving parent. To a military child, FaceTiming a parent is normal – let them share that with their civilian friends.
5. Adopt a Deployed Service Member
Pull together care packages and send them to a deployed service member. Find out what items they need first.
6. Hang a World Map on the Wall
Ask military kids to mark all the places they lived or mark the places that their parent’s have served. And then have your other students mark the places they’ve lived – they might be surprised how much they have in common! My own kids have a world map on the wall at their height. They know that we live near the racoon and that when daddy leaves he visits the camels. We’ve actually become a little obsessed with camels in our home because of this map!
7. Time Zone Clocks
Hang an extra clock on the wall with Daddy’s Time! These things are important to a military kid – make it important for you too. Or even get a timezone map! It’ll fully help the kids comprehend why Daddy is living at a different time.
8. Create a Hero Wall
Ask students to bring in a photo of their Hero – maybe their service member parent/uncle/grandparent, veteran, fire fighter, teacher, etc. Display the heroes on a wall and talk about the good that they do and the sacrifices that the heroes make.
9. Write letters to Veterans or Service Members
Color pictures for or write letters to service members.
10. Read Military-Themed Books
During story-time read books that talk about military life. Help other students to welcome a new military student and appreciate their sacrifices and life. I’ve compiled a list of the Best Books for Military Kids.
Do you have other ideas for ways to celebrate the month of the military child?