Opinion

Help your children develop their historical memory this summer | Ahrens

With Memorial Day having just passed, and July 4th just around the corner, many children can easily mistake these national holidays (and others) as just another reason to celebrate. Synonymous with backyard barbecues, parades and bright, colorful firework displays, the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, is anything but your average holiday. While celebrating is wonderful, we need to ensure that children understand the history that is behind the festivities that occur on our national holidays.

Kiddie Academy of Bothell owner Steve Ahrens believes that it’s important for children to learn about history – on a national, local and

family level – and to help children understand that each of them is, in fact, a living part of that history.

“Taking this view of history makes that common childhood question - ‘Where did I come from?’- take on a whole new meaning,” Ahrens said. “When children learn that they are not only members of a family, but also of a community and a state and a nation and the world, it expands the horizon of their imaginations and helps them see their own experiences, beliefs and ambitions in context.”

As summer vacations begin, Ahrens offers the following suggestions for family activities that will help children form connections to local, family, national, and even global history – as they develop their “historical memory.”

• Visit your local historical society to learn about your hometown. Who are the key figures that played a role in your town’s founding? What

contributions did your town or state make to the history of the United States?

• Explore one of the 400 parks administered by the U.S. National Park Service. Many have historic significance to the founding and development of our nation. You can search by state at the National Parks website: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm.  Park rangers give regular informational tours at most sites.

• Trace your family’s history. Build a family tree – there are multiple websites and apps to make creating a family tree easier than ever before. Local historical societies also contain many genealogy resources.

• Study maps, both historical and the Google Earth varieties. How did the state borderlines get drawn? Who decided the shape of each state?

• Visit The Library of Congress website’s Places in History section to review a wide variety of maps that document historic sites: http://www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/placesinhistory/.

• Discover how your state got its name. Mental Floss has a resource here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/31100/how-all-50-states-got-their-names

“History should be more than just a subject that our children study in school,” Ahrens said. “Each city, town and state has its own story that when combined with all the others helps to make our country unique. Exploring your community’s history is a fantastic way to bring history alive in a very personal way that can help children better understand how the world around them works, as well as how they fit into that world.”

For more information about Kiddie Academy of Bothell, contact Steve Ahrens at 425-485-7200 or bothell@kiddieacademy.net or visit www.kiddieacademy.com.

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