April is the Month of the Military Child, an observance not to be forgotten in the military community.
These are the kids who pack up and go to new places throughout their short childhoods more than most adults do in their entire lives.
The military kid community is 1.6 million kids strong, making it simple to see why they have an entire month to be reminded of just how important they are in the military world. Annually, the DoD joins various military-serving organizations, companies, and private citizens in honoring military children and their ongoing sacrifices.
This post will cover ideas to honor and celebrate the unique situation military kids are in and help them remember they matter, too.
Special and Fun Ways to Honor Military Kids
You don’t need to do anything elaborate or over-the-top to celebrate your kiddo this month. But there are some unique and fun ways you can honor them and the lifestyle they lead.
Here’s a look at how to celebrate your favorite military kids:
1. Check Out Special Base Activities
Most military installations have a number of activities scheduled throughout April for the Month of the Military Child. Check out the listings through your family resource groups and local military support groups. Add them to your calendar and take your child out to enjoy the event among other military families. Who knows, you may all come home having made even more new military friends!
2. Meet up With Their Favorite Military Friends
Military friends can make all the difference when it comes to getting settled into a new place. Make it a point this month to let your child connect with their favorite friends at your duty station. Friends can move in the blink of an eye, so getting quality time when they can is a joyful experience for military children.
3. Apply for Military Kid-Specific Scholarships
College isn’t cheap and unfortunately, it won’t get any cheaper. Help an older child who plans to attend college work on their applications for military kid-specific scholarships. There are plenty of them out there that can cover everything from books to tuition.
4. Create a Collage of Favorite Memories
As a family, print out photos and create a collage of favorite photos together. You can put them in a photo album, display them in your home, or put it on the fridge. For an even bigger family art project, consider putting together individual photo albums with photos printed from each base location your family has been stationed. This opens up a perfect opportunity for your kids to reflect on their favorite memories.
5. Date Night With the Service Member
When military service members are home, it’s a special period of time for most military families. With duties at home and work, though, it can be hard to have those quality time moments with a military child. Have the service member parent do a special “date night” out with your child. If you have more than one kiddo, make them separate events so everyone gets their fair share of time together.
6. Buy Them a Book About Military Kid Experiences
Reading together is a great way to build your child’s vocabulary while also helping them connect to a story that they can relate to as a military kid. Consider buying them a book related to military kid life like Night Catch or I Move A Lot and That’s Okay: Axel’s Story. Read the book together every night for the month!
7. Bring Your Service Member to School Day
Surprise your child by planning with their teacher to do a special guest speaker day in their class. This can be done if the service member is home — they can show up in their full uniform at school — or via a surprise video chat in the classroom. This offers a unique opportunity for other students to ask questions of the service member. Plus, most military children are proud to show off their service member parent any chance they get!
8. Head to a Dandelion Field
Because of its resilience to grow anywhere, the dandelion is a symbol and the official flower of the military child. Find a field full of dandelions— or a patch if you can’t find a field! — and take pictures of your child or children standing among dandelions or of them holding one. Sneak a few full blooms back home, press and dry the dandelion, and frame them for your military kid(s).
9. Order a Military Child Shirt
If you’re crafty, you can make your child their very own military child shirt. Or, consider ordering one of four designs from the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC). Orders will ship out the first week of April.
10. Have a Purple Parade
If your family lives on a military base, connect with other families on your street with little ones. Have all the kids dress in their favorite purple outfits so they can have an impromptu parade down the street. Don’t forget to take pics with their friends to document the memory!
11. Write a List of Reasons Your Military Child is Brave
Military kids are resilient and brave for a number of reasons. Craft a list of specific reasons your own child is brave. It can be printed out or handwritten on paper. Tape it to their bedroom door or bathroom mirror. It will remind them just how courageous they are and how you view them.
Honor Your Military Kid All Month Long
April is the month to honor your kid and their part in serving, too.
For all the times your kids packed up without grumbling, made new friends repeatedly, and jumped into new experiences with gusto — now is the time to reflect on how their military life experience played a role in who they are becoming.
The list above is simply a starting point for activities and ideas to do during the Month of the Military Child. Get as creative as you want and let your child or children join you in planning out which events and activities to do.
Here’s to all the military kids near and far — cheers to you and all that you do!