Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ANZAC Day and Preschoolers

For those of you not in the know, ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. Every year on April 25th this day is used to remember the fallen from these two nations. The reason for the date is that this was the day in 1915 that Australian and New Zealand troops were led onto Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. I will not go into details here of what took place, but if you would like to read more about it visit the Australian War Memorial site.

What I do want to share is that this day is one of the most significant on the Australian calendar. For this reason I believe it is important for young children to have the opportunity to learn about its significance and the history behind it. Despite the subject matter being quite grave it is still possible to explore this with preschoolers.

A few years ago I worked at a service that was located in a town that was also home to an army base and museum. Consequently one of our dads was a soldier. As we approached Anzac Day I asked if would be willing to talk to the children about why the day is important to him and what he would be doing on the day.

Again, I won't go into too much detail. Suffice to say the children were engrossed and listened intently to all he had to say. I later found out how much this experienced had touched some of the children and their families. No less then 6 of the children and their parents attended the Dawn Service the following morning. For four of these sets of parents it was also the first Dawn Service they had attended. All because their children couldn't stop talking about their visitor and what he had to say.

Every individual and service will have to decide for themselves if this is the sort of topic they would discuss with their children, but I would suggest that these are exactly the teachable moments we look for. If we trust children to make informed choices and take considered risks during their play then I believe we should For me, this was a worthwhile experience that incorporated the astounding knowledge of a father. Coincidentally I recently posted about engaging fathers more. It was also a wonderful way to include and raise awareness of an important part of the local community, the army.


  1. Hmm. We talked to our children about the tragedy of war and how it often comes about because of our fear of difference and an inability to resolve conflict - that we still have armies is a sad sign that we have much work to do.

    While I agree about engaging children with the big picture topics, i must admit to feeling a little uneasy about your position on the army as being an important part of the community. Plenty to think about Greg, thanks.

    1. I'm glad you broach the subject with the kids. As for the army's position in the community I stand by my comment. There are many role the military play beside fighting opposing forces. They are often the first to respond in times of crises such as floods, bush fires, cyclones, etc.

    2. Thanks for replying - and in very professional manner as I certainly threw up a challenge there Greg! Yes they respond to crisis but a civil 'defense' force really doesn't need training in how to kill people - just save them :) An important point I think your are skirting around :)

      Great posts Greg!


  2. I love this post. I was quite surprised that there was no learning to do with ANZAC day at our centre (this is my first teaching job and I've only been there 2 months). I made an attempt, and printed out a picture of a poppy and set it up near the painting easle. I tried to start discussions about ANZAC day on a few occaisions but it was hard without the support from my colleagues. I too think it is an important part of our culture. I can't quite understand why last week they made a fuss about Easter, yet there was nothing mentioned about ANZAC. Perhaps there needs to be more discussion among the teachers but well, the moment has gone now. Keep posting though, I enjoyed this. I really feel more males are needed in our industry for many reasons. One example reared its ugly head only this morning when a person mistakenly thought I was a primary school teacher even though they knew I was early childhood trained. His comment was "oh so you're doing real teaching now?" Grrrrrrr. Keep posting and blogging please.

    Oh, btw I'm Megan. It's nice to meet you. :) I'm from New Zealand. Is that okay? :) hehehheheheee

    1. Glad to have you stop by Megan and it matters not from where you hale. I think you are totally right about needing discussion amongst the teaching staff as there are bound to be those who oppose the idea of raising ANZAC day with young children. That's ok as we all have our own philosophy and beliefs that drive our practice, but there should also be willingness to accept other perspecctives and be open to new possibilities. Keep up the good work and don't be afraid to raise your concerns.

      It's sad, but not surprising that someone only recognised you as a teacher when they thought you were in a school. People's ideas about early childhood are slowly changing, but there will be that individual that will prove that for every success we have to expect some failures. Don't let them get to you.

      Cheers. :)