Armistice Day, 11th November 2018, marks the end of World War 1 and is a time to pay our respects to soldiers who have fought and served our country. Whilst this day of commemoration originated at the end of World War 1, it now recognises all soldiers and the sacrifices they have made. Discussing this topic can be challenging as for many children and young adults, comprehending events from the past such as WW1 are so far removed from our day-to-day lives – how can we possibly imagine what life was like? So how do you approach these topics with young children?
When talking to a child about any sensitive topic, it is important to tell them the facts, show compassion and give them time to consider the information. Often, you will find that a child will accept what you have said and will ask questions later when they have thought about this new idea. Although you may decide to tell them certain details, remember the age of your charge and be careful not to describe too much. Glorifying war, describing graphic images or highlighting any aggression should obviously be avoided as this could have a negative impact on your charge’s understanding. For very young children, simply highlighting that we celebrate our safety and freedom and have hope for the future is plenty of information to begin with. Wearing a poppy lets other people know that you are grateful for this and have continued hope.
Choosing your Language:
Describing in detail past historical events is great for older children as they begin to explore their own opinions on our society and need a greater understanding of our past. However, with younger children it is important to ensure that your language remains positive. Avoid using words such as ‘war’, ‘battle’, ‘fight’, ‘kill’ etc. to ensure that you are painting a positive image of remembrance. Using language such as ‘respect’, ‘honour’ and ‘thanks’ will allow your charge to have greater understanding of this ceremony and feel an optimistic connection towards it.
Researching into a specific topic such as learning how nutrition can have an impact on behaviour or how mindful activities can provide techniques for life can be extremely useful. This type of professional development is accessible to all due to it being flexible and free. Whilst motivating yourself to keep studying might be a challenge at times, choosing an interesting topic that will be beneficial to your job should help you sustain your enthusiasm and drive on to the end.
☑ ‘Where The Poppies Now Grow’ by Hilary Robinson & Martin Impey (4-5yrs+)
☑ ‘A Poppy Is to Remember’ by Heather Patterson (5yrs+)
☑ ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ by Shirley Hughes (5yrs+)
☑ ‘The Little Hen and the Great War’ by Jennifer Beck & Robyn Belton (5yrs+)
☑ ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ by Michelle Magorian (9-12yrs)
☑ ‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo (9-12yrs)
Whilst we want to shelter children from all of the terrible things that happen, understanding small parts of our history will help them to develop their own ideas and perceptions of our world. Be sensitive, compassionate and clear and help children to show respect for others.