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Teach your kids Labor Day is more than just sales – it’s about work

Labor Day, as the last holiday of the summer, is often celebrated with a barbecue and a dip in the pool. But did you know that Labor Day became an official holiday many years ago in 1894 and that it celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of American workers?

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Many people forget to consider this aspect of Labor Day, but it can serve as a great learning opportunity for you and your family. Each of the three ideas that appear below can be modified for children of all ages, and they can help you introduce your student to the deeper meaning of Labor Day.

1. Write notes of appreciation for various workers in your community

Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, is the perfect time to explore the interconnectedness of your community with your child. It’s also the perfect time to share your appreciation with the individuals who ensure your comfort and safety. For instance, if you and your family live in a large city, traffic control officers help you walk and drive through congested areas — and their job is often thankless. Bus drivers, child care workers, electricians, firemen and firewomen, nurses, police officers, and teachers are just some of the other people that you and your student can thank with a handmade card or an illustrated note. Before you deliver your greetings, speak with your child about the duties that each individual carries out.

2. Draw a picture story about community workers in your area

If you live in a rural community, you may not see traffic control officers every day — or at all! But workers like farmers may be unique to your area. Farmers, in particular, devote themselves to their jobs day in and day out, and shopping in a grocery store can make it easy to forget where our food comes from. A second strategy is perfect for scenarios like this one: Create a picture story that details their loves. While this involves a bit of research (for example, what do farmers do outside the growing season?), it can clarify to students why it’s so important to acknowledge the efforts of those people that we may not initially realize we rely on.

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3. Create a career pinboard

One benefit of discussing Labor Day with your child is that it can broaden her knowledge of the jobs available to her in the future. Perhaps she has never considered a career as a firefighter until now, or perhaps a deeper understanding of nursing will strike it from her list. Set up a digital pinboard (like one on Pinterest) or a physical one (in a central location like a homework corner or a kitchen), and then choose a career or multiple careers to investigate. For instance, what training is necessary to hold this job? What is an average work day like? What challenges does this career face, and what makes it so fantastic? Even if your student decides that the job is in no way right for her, she’ll have a deeper appreciation for the work that others do.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit

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