Every veteran has a story to tell. And our children need to hear those stories. This November, it’s important that we work on connecting veterans to schools so that our future generations know and understand the meaning of selfless service.
There are easy ways to bring stories of military service into our schools this month and throughout the school year.
Connecting Veterans to Schools
Bringing veterans and their stories into schools is just missing two key components: action and cooperation.
It’s important that teachers and schools take action to bring Veteran’s Day programming into their classrooms and schools. Worksheets and coloring pages are great, but learning about veterans is more meaningful when children can hear the stories first hand.
Local veteran’s organizations and military units can reach out to local schools, offering to send in guest speakers or provide learning opportunities. Taking this first step can lead to an ongoing relationship with schools, bridging that military/civilian divide!
How Military Units and Veteran’s Groups Can Connect with Schools
Military units — active duty, reserve or National Guard — are relatively stable even though the actual personnel might change over time. All it takes is just one person or unit reaching out to a teacher or school to build a relationship.
First, talk to your unit, base, or regional public affairs office. They will have guidance about how to connect with non-military organizations. There might already be relationships in place that you could draw on while setting up a Veteran’s Day program.
Next, contact area school districts, individuals schools, or use a personal connection at a school. Ask if the school is open to guest speakers from your base or command. Explain that your team will be sharing age-appropriate stories about military service and why they’ve chosen to serve.
Every military base should also have a School Liaison Officer (SLO). This individual, or office, should already have developed connections with on-base and local public schools. Talk with the SLO to find out the best people to talk to at the school(s). Or work together to build a Veteran’s Day program for schools.
How Schools and Teachers Can Connect with Military Veterans
It just takes one teacher with an initiative to build a great Veteran’s Day Program!
First, check with your school’s administration to learn the process to bring guest speakers to your classroom. You can also reach out to colleagues. Gauge their interest in participating in this program.
Then, connect with local military bases, units, and veteran’s groups. Try:
- Local VFW Chapters or other veteran service organizations
- Wounded Warrior Project
- Team Red, White and Blue
- Semper Fi Fund
- Base SLO — see the military base website for contact information
Outline what you are looking for, the ages this presentation would be reaching, and several ideal dates and times.
Once you have speakers on board and the go-ahead from your school leadership, set up the Veteran’s Day schedule! Make sure to include supporting activities and resources for teachers to use in their individual classrooms, too.
Get help building your own Veteran’s Day program with resources from the History Channel’s Take a Veteran to School Program.
Veteran’s Day Resources to Use in School and at Home
There are great ways to build connections to Veteran’s Day at your school or at home even if you can’t get an in-person speaker.
One great starter activity is to read an age-appropriate book with your child or students. Operation We Are Here has an excellent list of children’s picture books. The Cincinnati Library goes beyond picture books with recommendations for Veteran’s Day books from early readers to adults.
Next, you might consider reading “In Flanders Fields,” a famous poem about World War I by John McCrae. It has become connected with Veteran’s Day. Older students can dive deeper into the meaning of this poem, examining the history and symbolism behind the words. Younger children can listen to the poem and share their feelings or impressions. Another idea, for all ages, is to create art inspired by “In Flanders Fields.”
The National Education Association and the Georgia 4H program both have complete lesson plans available to teachers.
The NEA features several Veteran’s Day lesson plans aimed at elementary, middle, and high school students. Teachers, and parents or homeschooling families, can access individual lesson plans. Each lesson plan comes with directions, linked resources, and supplementary materials.
Georgia’s program has a complete packet that includes Veteran’s Day resources for teachers and students. It’s aimed at elementary and middle school students, but can be leveled up for older children. The entire document is printable. Parents could even print out just the pages they need. Or download this as a PDF ebook for on-the-go use on a tablet.
Whether you’re hosting guest speakers or DIYing an in-class lesson, it’s super important to share our veterans’ stories.