Many children have their first encounter with the flag at a parade or at school. It’s never too early for toddlers and preschoolers to learn simple facts about respecting the American flag. You can begin teaching your child flag rules and etiquette as you encounter the flag in daily life, whether at home or in public. Even young children enjoy demonstrating their spirit of patriotism by handling and recognizing the U.S. flag properly.
1. Flags on Display
Any time you and your child are shopping or running errands, take the opportunity to talk about American flags you see displayed. Help your child notice that the U.S. flag is always flown above state or municipal flags. Point out that the flag can be displayed any time between sunrise and sunset, weather permitting, and that it should be flown at night, only if it is illuminated.
2. Flags at Parades
Young children can learn the etiquette of carrying a small flag at occasions such as parades. Instruct your child to always carry the flag so it waves freely, and to never allow it to touch the ground. When the flag passes by, any U.S. citizen should show respect by either standing at attention or placing the right hand over the heart. Boys or girls wearing caps should be instructed to remove their hats, holding them in their right hand, over the heart.
3. Flags at Home
If you display an American flag outside your home, allow your preschooler to help you raise, lower and store it correctly. Unfold and raise the flag in a brisk manner. Lowering the flag should be done slowly and respectfully. Teach your child about such holidays as Independence Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day, so that he understands the significance of each of these days to our country.
4. The Pledge of Allegiance
Children usually first begin saying the Pledge of Allegiance when they attend school. You can help prepare your child, by teaching him to say the pledge at home. Check out some simple, colorful picture books about the flag and the pledge from your local public library. Read the books aloud to your child and teach him the pledge by saying the words, phrase by phrase, and have him repeat them. When saying the pledge, children should stand and place their right hand over their heart as they look at the flag.
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