June 19, or Juneteenth, is just around the corner and as parents and educators, we’re ideally situated to teach our students about Juneteenth. However, talking to children about cultural holidays — especially Juneteenth — sounds hard. But it doesn’t have to be. Read below for the history of Juneteenth and activities to make this learning process fun.
What is Juneteenth?
“Juneteenth” commemorates the day — June 19th, 1865 — that 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and informed the remaining 250,000 enslaved Americans that the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln granted them freedom. The news took a full two and a half extra years to get to Texas after the executive order was signed in 1863!
The first Juneteenth was observed in 1866 and in 1980, Texas became the first to acknowledge June 19th as a state holiday.
Where to find kid-friendly Juneteenth learning resources
PBS Kids offers an easy-to-understand video all about Juneteenth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWBlikh8A2E.
And we may love math here, but you can celebrate by reading books around Juneteenth — or Black history generally — for kids:
- “Juneteenth for Mazie” by Floyd Cooper.
- “Sophie and Lelah Celebrate Juneteenth” by L. Monique Gonzalez.
- “Juneteenth Jamboree” by Carole Boston Weatherford.
- “All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom” by Angela Johnson.
- “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History” or “Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History” from the Little Leaders series by Vashti Harrison.
Explaining Juneteenth to your children is important, but you might not want to explain Juneteenth to kids if you don’t want to explain slavery to them. It may be too scary a topic for kids that aren’t old enough—and while children’s ability to understand and manage that kind of information varies, it’s safer to not start until they’re closer to 6 or 7 years old. Juneteenth is meant to be a celebration of freedom and life and we should include our little ones in the fun.
The best way to see if we are a good fit for your child’s needs is to visit our center, meet the instructors and get a Complimentary Math Skills Assessment.
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