The last in a series on raising patriotic kids.
First-grade students learn a lot more than the three Rs in Diana Rambaldi’s New Jersey classroom. They also get a good dose of old-fashioned P.
Patriotism is part of her curriculum, starting on the first days of school.
“We teach them straight from the beginning about why we salute the flag, and even in just two weeks, I absolutely see a change.”
But while Rambaldi says bringing lessons on patriotism and respect for our country into the classroom is effective and extremely important to her, it isn’t always easy. Often there is too much other mandated curriculum, and teachers struggle to fit in additional projects.
That’s why Rambaldi and the Boot Campaign got together to figure out how to make it easier. They gathered a team of experienced educators to develop Boot Campaign’s Patriot League, a full-on K-12 educational program to promote youth patriotism and public service.
Teachers can pick and choose the lesson plans and activities they’d like to use – what matches with their styles, standards, and goals. Topics include military valor, the right to vote, and American music. Lessons range from writing assignments and digital activities, to art projects and more. Boot Campaign makes it super easy – all the materials are available online, downloadable, and printable.
Oh, and this fresh, fun way to enhance students’ knowledge of our military and what it means to be a patriot? It’s free! Rambaldi says she doesn’t know anything else out there like it, and encourages educators who would like to cover more civic education in their classrooms and groups to give it a try.
“Our American children have lost a lot of patriotism, and this is one step in the right direction.”
In addition to learning about patriotism and civic responsibility, there’s an optional fundraising component to the Patriot League. Students are welcome to create or purchase something to sell, and the funds generated will directly support financial assistance for mental and physical treatment through Boot Campaign’s ReBOOT program.Rambaldi sees the fundraising as a community service — like writing letters to past and present service members — and serves as a lesson in gratitude as well. She organized the entire first grade to make rubber band bracelets, sell them to friends and family, and donate the $1,500 in proceeds to the Boot Campaign.
“It gives them them an opportunity to pay back and pay it forward. It asks them to think what can you do for someone else. We do a lot of things for ourselves…it’s a time for kids to understand about giving back.”
If you’re wondering if, in this day and age of political correctness, Rambaldi has received any pushback from parents, the answer is no…not once. They applaud it, she says, and appreciate what it gives their kids. Those lessons really do stick.
“I have kids that come back to me and say, ‘I remember when I got that letter back from the soldier.’ They remember writing the letters and the feeling of ‘I made that soldier smile today.’”
For both Rambaldi and Boot Campaign, that’s what it’s all about – teaching kids to respect and appreciate those who serve, encourage them to give back, and most of all — what it means to be a patriot.
“The truth is, if just one more kid understands what it’s all about and learns something new about their country, that’s a win for me. That’s enough.”
For more information about Boot Campaign’s Patriot League, click here.