The Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs (KCMA) offers suggestions on how Kentucky teachers can celebrate the Month of Military Child in April. April was designated the Month of the Military Child in 1986 by U.S. Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger to recognize and thank children from military families. A military-connected student is a child or adolescent with a close family member serving in any branch of the United States Armed Forces and any status, Active Duty, Reserve or National Guard.
The average military student faces transition challenges more than twice during high school, and most military children will attend six to nine different school systems in their lives from kindergarten through 12th grade. With more than half of all military personnel supporting families, military-connected students face school changes more than three times more frequently than non-military families.
“Purple Up” is a campaign to highlight and raise awareness to acknowledge and support military-connected students in our schools and communities. Besides wearing a purple ribbon that designates support, there are several ways in which local schools can celebrate military-connected kids and raise awareness about the unique circumstances of living the military lifestyle, which can be challenging for children.
Here are ways suggested by KCMA that teachers and schools can show support for military children and their families:
- Create a kickoff event for the month. Dedicate a breakfast or lunch to military-connected students in the school. Invite their parents or other family members associated with the military. Invite staff who were once active military or military kids or who may have a close family member serving our country to participate.
- Highlight April as the Month of the Military Child on the school’s marquee and in school newsletters.
- April 15 is the official “Purple Up” day. Students can wear purple to show their support for our military families.
- Incorporate information and facts about military-connected children in daily or weekly announcements. Have military-connected students or family members help with the announcements.
- Decorate bulletin boards throughout April with military focused memorabilia or items brought by military kids reflecting their experiences (where they have lived or traveled, family members’ service memorabilia, patches, et cetera). Nonmilitary-connected children can share in this activity as they can share the places they may have travelled to as well.
- Create a world map and mark where students and staff have lived during their military service.
- Have students create posters to thank military families for their service.
- Adopt a deployed service member or unit.
- Create care packages for deployed troops with notes, cards or pictures.
- Start a buddy program to welcome all new students that transfer into the school.
- Ask a military member (a parent or sibling of someone in the class) to be a guest speaker and share their perspective on profession and life in the military.
- Create a “hero wall” to honor those in the military or in public service with a bulletin board with photos of those family members or family friends currently serving, or a veteran who has served (living or dead).
- Create a “time zone wall” identifying different time zones from around the world, highlighting where military-connected students have lived while their families have been deployed (or are being deployed).
- Have students bring in something military-related items for show and tell.