Do your children know the significance of Labor Day? Well, the first Monday in September is celebrated as Labor Day in the US. The equivalent of this holiday in most countries is May Day. Like May Day, Labor Day celebrates the work force of the country. To most kids, Labor Day may signal the end of summer and the start of the school year, or the day to do Back-to-School shopping, but many may not be aware that Labor Day is the day to acknowledge and commemorate the economic and social contributions of US workers who have helped build a country that is healthy and prosperous (at least it used to be and let us hope to get there again!). Labor Day was a victory for activists over child labor (children worked in mines and factories in unhealthy conditions) and long working days for adults and in the 1800’s was made into an official holiday to protect the rights of workers all over the country.
Knowing the history of Labor Day is important and we parents can use this as an opportunity to talk about work with our children. As many psychologists agree, getting children to be engaged in “purposeful work” is very important to having children who feel competent, fulfilled and independent. So, getting kids to be working in a purposeful way, that is making their work important and relevant in the bigger picture, will help grow kids who are psychologically healthy, self-directed, self-reliant, motivated and confident—all necessary qualities for good leadership and citizenship, something we all aspire for our children. So, engage your kids in doing real “work” and not just kid stuff—give them important chores around the house, invite them to share their ideas and let them help with cooking and cleaning and organizing. Let them use their hands, and their heads and hearts, all along knowing that you as parents “trust” them to do the best possible job that they can do. So, in the spirit of Labor Day, here are some activities for your family.
- Work together as a family to make a meal and have a party
- Discuss important work you have done during the month or the year as a family or as an individual
- For older kids, brainstorm about interesting professions or what they might like to be when they grow up or get them to discuss a character from a book who did interesting work.
- Little kids can read books like A Job for Wittilda or Tortoise Brings the Mail.
- Talk about what traits various kinds of work may require. What kind of work requires Patience? Or will power? Or Love? Besides the usual qualities of leadership, hard work etc.
- Little kids can make thank you cards for people who work hard in their lives.
Finally, I will leave you with this thought today by American Henry Ford who contributed a great deal to the economic health of the country:
“The man who has the largest capacity for work and thought is the man who is bound to succeed.” —My Life and Work
Happy Labor Day!
Signing off until next time,
Brunda Moka Dias