As a mom of two children who were born in the summer, I am all too familiar with the unique challenges that summer birthday celebrations hold. I remember being very pregnant with my second son and lamenting his due date, worried that he would always feel left out, having a birthday close to a holiday and never being able to celebrate with his school classmates. Thankfully, my husband reminded me that there were plenty of amazing aspects to having a summer birthday. After planning many summer birthday celebrations, I have learned how to navigate the challenges–and take advantage of the opportunities–that summer birthdays can hold. Here are some tried-and-true ways for making your child’s summer birthday fun and memorable.
Celebrating at School
As an elementary teacher, I love watching my students deliver treats and wear their birthday crowns with pride. Celebrating a birthday at school seems to be a rite of passage in our culture. One disappointing aspect of having a summer birthday is that children often aren’t at school on their birthday. I offer parents three options for celebrating their child’s summer birthday in my classroom: To celebrate at the beginning of school, to celebrate a half-birthday, or to celebrate at the end of the school year. Keep in mind your child’s actual birthdate. A June birthday is easily celebrated at the end of the school year, whereas the half-birthday for a July 1st birthday will likely fall during most schools’ holiday breaks (January 1st). The date that you choose isn’t nearly as important as allowing your child a chance to be celebrated by his classmates.
Setting the Date
When my oldest child was in preschool, he received a birthday invitation three months in advance of a friend’s party. At the time, to be honest, I wondered if that parent may have lost her mind. But now, I realize that her plan was quite brilliant. It can be very tricky to plan a birthday party for a child when school is not in session (how do you pass out invitations?) and when so many families are on vacation. But by sending invitations early, families will have your child’s party blocked out in their calendar, and you are sure to have better attendance. Don’t forget to choose your date wisely (Is the 4th of July weekend really a great idea?), and be sure to keep your own family’s summer schedule in mind.
Choosing a Location
One of the best things about celebrating a summer birthday is the advantage of planning warm-weather activities. Summers are the best time to host parties at an outdoor venue, such as a pool, a local park, or even your own backyard. I have hosted several fun, inexpensive birthday parties right in my backyard. These birthday parties are relaxed, low-key, and allow kids to have fun playing games they enjoy, or even hold a water balloon battle. Just don’t forget to have a contingency plan in case of inclement weather.
While summer birthdays can hold unique challenges, they also hold amazing opportunities. No matter when your child’s birthday is, make a plan in advance to ensure an experience that includes all the joys that accompany childhood birthday celebrations. It doesn’t matter when your little one was born, it matters that they are growing into wonderful little people. Birthdays allow us to reflect on all that our children have accomplished in the last year. They also provide a beautiful opportunity to show our children that we care.
Memorial Day can be more than just the traditional kickoff to summer. This national holiday is a perfect time to teach your children the importance of this day, and to show them how to honor our nation’s heroes.
Check out your local library for children’s books about Memorial Day. Use this holiday as a chance to teach your child about why we celebrate. Your librarian is sure to have recommendations for your child’s age, but a few good options might be:
The Wall by Eve Bunting
Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops by Jill Biden
What the Baby Saw by Theresa Mamah
Memorial Day by Emma Carlson Berne
Crafts are a perfect way to celebrate this holiday. It can be amazing what children can do with a little bit of red, white, and blue paper and paint. Creating American flags, pinwheels, wreaths, and stars will also serve as decorations for your celebrations. Don’t limit yourself to paper crafts. Creating patriotic-themed desserts and snacks can serve as a creative family-activity time for you and your child, while also offering a sweet treat as a reward for your hard work.
Honor and Respect
In talking about the meaning of Memorial Day, it is important to teach about honoring and respecting those who gave their lives in service of our country. Visiting a local war memorial or a veterans’ cemetery can be a time for your family to honor and respect our country’s heroes. If there is not a veterans’ cemetery near you, try walking through a local cemetery. Most veterans’ military service is noted on their gravestones.
In 2000, after learning that most children did not associate Memorial Day with memorializing fallen soldiers, Congress enacted The National Moment of Remembrance. In signing this act, President Clinton asked Americans, wherever they were at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute. This moment of silence is often accompanied by the playing of “Taps.” Teach your child about the Moment of Remembrance, then set an alarm on your phone or watch for 3 p.m.. Take this minute to pause and remember the men and women who have lost their lives in service to our country.
Many communities organize parades as a way to celebrate the start of summer and to memorialize our nation’s heroes. Check your local news to see what is available in your area. Another option is to watch our nation’s largest Memorial Day event, The National Memorial Day Parade is held at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Memorial Day. The parade salutes all who have served and sacrificed in service for our country. You can also view a livestream of the parade by searching “The National Memorial Day Parade” on YouTube.
However you choose to celebrate Memorial Day with your family, remember to take the time to teach the next generation about the history of this national holiday and enjoy the kickoff to a great summer!