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Connecting With Your Kids on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Every January we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and it’s very likely that your son or daughter’s classroom will do activities leading up to or on that day to honor Dr. King.

Use MLK Day to Ask Your Child Specific Questions
All too often, we ask our kids, “how was your day?” and get a simple, “good” or “fine” in response.

You can combat this on holidays like MLK Day. In the days leading up to the holiday, ask your child what his or her teacher or school has planned to honor Dr. King.

When you pick your child up from school in the days before the holiday, ask your son or daughter what they did in school that day to recognize MLK Day. Some examples of activities teachers might use in the classroom that day are:

· Timelines: of the civil rights movement, of Dr. King’s life, etc.
· Speech Writing Activities: inspired by Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech
· Story Time: the teacher may read books to the class about Dr. King
· Book Reports: older students might be asked to read a book written about Dr. King or to choose a book by an African American writer to write a book report on for class
· Nonviolent Conflict Management: older students might study and discuss Dr. King’s nonviolent approach to confrontation
· English Language Arts Assignments: students may be asked to write poems, stories, or essays on relevant themes (peace, diversity, civil rights, equality)

Is Your Knowledge a Little Rusty?
Want to dust off your knowledge about Dr. King before talking with your kids? Here are a few highlights of Dr. King’s life and the impact he made in the Civil Rights Movement:

· Dr. King believed in nonviolent resistance.
· Dr. King was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully fought racial discrimination in state and federal law.
· Dr. King fought against segregation laws.
· In 1963, King organized his famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to support President John F. Kennedy’s civil rights bill (which, once passed, became the Civil Rights Act of 1964).
· Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was given in Washington, D.C. at the march.
· Dr. King received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was the youngest person ever to receive the honor.
· Dr. King was a Baptist minister.
· Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968. He was just 39 years old when he died.
· Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was created as a federal holiday in 1983 under President Ronald Reagan.
· Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was observed for the first time in 1986.
· Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day wasn’t recognized in all 50 states until 2000.
· Dr. King is among only three individuals to be recognized with a national holiday. The others are George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

Photo via Life Magazine

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