For many of us, the arrival of 2021 represented a turning point, one of change and of hope. A rollout of vaccines began being administered across the country, and the first female Vice President of The United States, took her position in The White House. Pride was something many of us held close to our hearts, and women felt a sense of sisterhood, in our united goal for equal power. We celebrated this historic milestone together, allowing the depth of what it meant for women in the world, and for the future of our girls, to resonate within.
Many parents wondered how to best relay this lesson, of such a momentous occurrence, and create a shared celebration with our children. Is there a way to help our daughters feel empowered by this shift, as so many women are? Are there ways to build a child’s comprehension, so they may better understand the significance of our first female Vice President in office?
While lessons on the executive branch, the voting process, and female empowerment, may sound like complex topics and concepts for preschoolers, when broken down and simplified in kid-friendly ways, they can help your child better absorb the changes occurring in our country, while also strengthening important cognitive skills beneficial to their development.
Children learn primarily through play, and teaching lessons about our American government can be done in fun and creative ways. Below are some patriotic activities to boost your child’s confidence, learn about the executive branch, and celebrate girl power.
1. Elect Your Child As President For The Day.
This is a great opportunity to discuss with your child the role of a leader. Leaders are helpers, thinkers and doers, and great leaders lead with compassion. With your child as President of the day, brainstorm some ideas to be kind and helpful at home, or towards neighbors. Share stories of changes past Presidents have made, that impacted others for the better.
Your child will love being commander-in-chief, and you can even encourage them to make some “executive” decisions at home.
2. Presidential Self-Portrait; An Empowerment Exercise.
Have your child paint a self-portrait as President. For young children, having a mirror beside their canvas is helpful, as it prompts them to include important facial features.
Since Presidential portraits are hung throughout The White House, research a few of them with your child, and see if they’d like to create one that looks similar or different. Some Presidential portraits can often appear serious, but your child is free to create one as colorful or as wacky as they like. This is a fun way to start the holiday off, as it allows children to view themselves as capable leaders, while letting go of past limiting ideas of what an American President looks like.
Feel free to add American flag stickers to your child’s portrait or paint the background in red, white and blue.
3.Create A Presidential Costume.
As President of the Day, ask your child how they’d like to dress up. For many kids, this may mean wearing a cape (or creating your own with fabric markers, sequins, and a pillowcase). Some other fun ideas might be a crown, a wand, a dress, mom or dad’s suit, or even some festive face paint.
While in costume, consider a Presidential walk around the block, and let your child smile and wave at neighbors. Add some music to the mix, and play the Presidential anthem, “Hail to the Chief” in the background.
Give space for freedom and silliness, for this creative, dramatic play exercise.
4. Create Your Own White House in The Living Room.
Using large cardboard boxes create your own White House at home. Be sure to paint your boxes white or simply decorate with markers and crayons. Add a toy flag to the top, and prompt your child to add items they believe are in the real White House, like books, flowers, family photos, etc.
Next, bring in female dolls and the women in your family, to role play as leaders in The White House. Allow ample time for imaginative play, giving prompts to be helpers of the country, and to make “big” decisions.
5. Create a Voting Booth.
Voting is an important part of our government and democracy. Voting at home can be a fun way to prepare your child to better understand the power of a single vote.
Using a shoe box, cut out an opening to insert family “ballots”. Let your child decorate their voting box with stickers, glitter, etc. Next, decide what your family will be voting on. What to have for dinner tonight? The next family outing? Which movie to watch this weekend? After your child has written their vote down and placed it in the box, let them take on the role of election poll worker, and collect all family votes. Encourage your child to count the votes independently, and share the results with the family. Consider an election results party, to make it even more exciting.
6. A Poster Board Collage of Female Leaders.
Grab some magazines, and let your child flip through, finding different women to put onto their leadership board. Be sure to model inclusiveness, and add women of various cultures, races, sizes, and ages. You can also print out pictures of real female leaders, to add to the board, sharing who they are, and their impact. Prompt your child to create drawings of family members or add family photos, to include mom, sisters, teachers, aunts, etc., for a true female empowerment board. Next, add words to your leadership poster that describe what a leader is (either written or cut out from magazines). Some common adjectives said by students: brave, powerful, kind and intelligent. Lastly, hang up your poster in an area where family members can easily view it, allowing it to serve as a visual reminder about the power of all women.
There are many ways we can help children learn how to encourage and support female leadership this President’s Day. However you decide to incorporate patriotic activities at home, creating educational and fun moments as a family, is already a celebration worthy of itself.
Ana Maria Medici is a children’s book author and former preschool teacher. For more information visit www.anamariamedici.com.