How to teach your children about Remembrance Sunday
Autumn is filled with happy occasions – Halloween (the biggest sugar rush of the year), Diwali and Bonfire Night – but then the sobriety of Remembrance Sunday hits on 11th November every year. And this year it is even more significant as we hit 100 years since the end of the First World War.
All week I have been getting questions from Sophia – I want a poppy, what’s it for? Why is everyone wearing them? Why are there giant poppies on the lamp posts on our street? Why did my teacher take your money and give me a poppy? Will she give it back to us? Can you put one in my hair?!? So I think the time has come to explain what it all means but broaching the subject of a savage world war and extreme bravery to a six year old could be a bit hairy.
Image by BBC
I would have loved to go to a Remembrance service this weekend but the thought of my two children running around the cenotaph shouting during the minute’s silence was far too much of a possibility – so we decided to stay home. How do you explain the meaning of Remembrance Sunday to children without it stirring up lots of emotions that they didn’t even know they had?
Experts say that whatever age your child is you should stick to the facts and relate them clearly and compassionately. Explain to children that it’s a special day when we remember the armed forces and the people who look after our country – explain that their job is dangerous and they have to spend a long time away from their families. Try not to talk about aggression and fighting and try to explain that it’s not a day to celebrate.
My personal response was ‘A long time ago there was a terrible war, lots of brave soldiers fought, and some of them died. We wear poppies now once a year to help us remember all those brave people.’ Unfortunately Sophia focused on the war part and asked what happened to her when the war was on and if she was still in my tummy? I had to explain that it was even before her grandma was born which did the trick and there were no further questions.
The British Legion often go into schools to visit children in a teaching environment and explain the facts in a child friendly way – so for many, school will spare parents from going into too much detail.
However, if you would like to teach your child more, head to BBC iPlayer where you can download this evocative CBBC video which explains the premise of Remembrance Sunday through animals in a battlefield. The British Legion website also features lesson plans which are relevant for older children. For those with children under 10, try this great cookery book from the British Legion to gently introduce the concept in a fun way.
Image by Made For Mums