As we approach Independence Day and make plans to watch fireworks, attend parades, and celebrate with friends and family, I thought it would a good time to touch on ways to teach American history and patriotism at home to our children — young ones and older children alike. It’s wonderful when they’re able to learn this at school — but it really starts at home! Knowing our nation’s history, and what was sacrificed for our freedoms, adds to the pride that I can’t help but feel every time I hear the National Anthem before a game, or when I have the opportunity to visit historical sites that set the foundation for our country. It’s this combination of teaching and pride that I hope to instill in my own children. The great news is that you don’t have to be an American history expert to be able to teach this. It’s rather simple, and today I wanted to share some things that we do as a family that you can easily do with your own. And what better week to start than the week before Independence Day?
7 Ways to Instill Patriotism at Home
1. Teach history beyond what they learn in a textbook.
Read great stories about courageous American heroes from the Revolution until now — pivotal battles and moments in history. Libraries are great resources during Independence Day week as they will often have displays filled with books you can check out. Our summer book club also has an entire week devoted to patriotic books. You can still sign up and get access to all our content including this great week on American history.
2. Visit museums and battlefields.
Your local museum is a great resource! When you’re on a road trip or vacation, try to stop and see battlefields — even a half-hour detour can be quite enriching and memorable. I found this list of 20 battlefields that are important to our country’s history, in case any upcoming travels happen to take you near one!
3. Observe patriotic holidays.
Show your patriotism by decorating your home, displaying a flag, talking about the importance of that specific holiday, or hosting a small celebratory get together. For a list of patriotic holidays (so you can add them to your calendar!), click here.
4. Display the American flag correctly.
It’s not necessarily common knowledge, but there is an etiquette to how to display the American flag. We recently wrote a post all about this — including what to do and what not to do — and you can read it here!
5. Attend Independence Day and Veterans Day parades.
This is such a fun outing for the whole family and can be a tradition you carry on year after year! Check your city’s website for information on all the local events happening in your area, and even consider driving to a smaller town nearby for a little slice of Americana.
6. Pay your respects by serving.
Volunteer with veterans organizations, writing letters at Christmas, laying wreaths, or planting at cemeteries.With older children especially, this opens up such wonderful dialogue about what it means to serve your country, selflessness, and patriotism. It’s a great opportunity to teach about the different branches of the U.S. military, too. Boy Scouts is an other organization that encourages volunteer work and teaches patriotism.
7. Watch patriotic movies that are age-appropriate.
There are lots of movies that would be fun for a family movie night — from Annie (it ends with a 4th of July fireworks display!) to Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front and An American Tail for little ones, then patriotic movies like Miracle, 42, Hamilton, or National Treasure for older children. 1776 is another one for tween/teens. The possibilities are endless and you can have such fun dialogue after! Be sure to check a site such as Common Sense Media to ensure that it’s a good fit for your family before watching.