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Kath Dickson Family Centre

Serving, protecting and empowering families since 1975

serving, protecting and empowering families since 1975serving, protecting and empowering families since 1975

Kath Dickson Family Centre Blog

Explaining Anzac Day to young children

Samfya Smith - Monday, April 24, 2017

Anzac Day poppiesAnzac Day is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It can be a confronting and emotional time for adults, let alone children. Our early childhood experts at Kath Dickson Family Centre offer some advice on how to help young children understand the meaning and importance of the day.

Laying of wreaths, the Last Post, a crowd that goes silent, marches, poems, medals…Anzac Day is full of symbolism, both heartbreaking and inspiring. 

The ceremony and traditions are such an integral part of our culture that it is sometimes easy to forget that not everyone has a shared level of understanding. 

The following are some things you can do to help your children understand the importance of Anzac Day to our culture and sense of community, in a way that is age appropriate.

Plan ahead. Brush up on your own historical knowledge so that you feel more informed and prepared when the questions appear. Have a think about your child and what level of information you want to share with them at this stage.

Keep it honest but simple. It may be enough at this stage just to say, ‘Anzac Day is when we take some time to remember all the brave Australian men and women who fought in wars to keep us safe’.

Share a book. A book about Anzac Day that is specifically aimed at children may make it easier for both of you to start a conversation. Read the story and have a chat afterwards. Ask what they think it all means and don’t forget to ask if they have any questions. With the recent Centenary commemorations, there are plenty of books about the First World War for children. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your local library for some suggestions.

Watch or attend a ceremony. If you feel that your children are ready, by all means take them to a parade or dawn service. You may want to observe them and check in with them to make sure they are coping OK. Be open to the inevitable questions and conversations afterwards. Alternatively you could watch a ceremony on TV.

Hold your own commemoration. If you feel that it may be too overwhelming for your children to attend a public service, you could hold your own ceremony, including a minute’s silence. This roleplay would help to prepare your children for attending in the future, including what behaviour is expected of them.

Start your own traditions. Introduce the concepts of Anzac Day through shared activities, such as cooking and craft. These can become a cherished annual tradition for your family. Make Anzac biscuits together and talk about how they were made by wives and mothers, and sent to soldiers who were away at war. Or you could make poppies together. Explain that we wear red flowers called poppies to show others that we are remembering the people who went to war. 

If your children don’t understand everything this year, that’s fine – it’s a big concept to get your head around. But keep up the traditions and conversations and each year they will understand more.

Find out more about the services offered by Kath Dickson Family Centre at www.kdfc.com.au or by calling 07 4633 8400.

Traditional Anzac biscuit recipe

1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats and coconut
125g butter
1 Tbs golden syrup
2 Tbs boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate soda

Preheat oven to 180oC.
Combine dry ingredients.
Melt together butter and golden syrup.
Combine water and bicarb soda, and add to butter mixture.
Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients.
Drop teaspoons of mixture onto a greased biscuit tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
Cool on a tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.