Women’s History Month, every March, is a golden opportunity to get your kids excited about history’s most inspirational women. The month-long celebration highlights the “contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society”. Coinciding with International Women’s Day on 8 March, It was created in 1978 (as ‘Week’) and has grown around the world ever since.
Below, we’ve set out a few ideas on how to make the most of the month with your kids -- whether girls or boys.
Begin With What They Know
A good, and fun, place to start with school-age kids is to ask them how many famous women from history they can already name. Jot these down on a piece of paper. You can then use the list as a springboard for further conversation. “What can you tell me about her?”, “Do you know roughly when she lived?”, “Our list could use a few more scientists. Do you know any famous women scientists?”. Building on what a child already knows gives them a framework against which they can pin new information. Look for images and videos about the women on the list, and use maps to show where they lived and worked. You could even get them to make a short booklet about the person they find most inspirational using images printed from the internet.
What Do You Want To Be…?
Alternatively, you could ask the child to name something they’d really like to do when they’re older. If they say ‘become a doctor’, for example, you could look into the lives of pioneering female doctors, such as Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson or Rebecca Lee Crumpler. It doesn’t matter if you currently know nothing about these subjects -- it’ll make it more fun if you’re both learning as you go along. Use online articles, blog posts, videos and other resources to discover as much as you can about your chosen subject. You could take it in turns to jot down your findings onto a spider diagram of ideas.
Speak To Them About Role Models In Male-Dominated Domains
Despite decades of progress, some professions and activities are still associated with men more than women. Many STEM careers, such as engineers, scientists and doctors, are still perceived as male-dominated even if, in reality, large numbers of women now work in these areas. Positions of power, such as company leaders and politicians, remain heavily skewed towards men. Pursuits such as motor-racing and most team sports are still promoted with a heavy male bias.
In all cases, we can find and talk to our children about inspiring female role models from history who have broken through perceptions and prejudice to achieve something brilliant. One good example is aviation. We all know that the Wright brothers were the first men to fly a heavier-than-air craft, but how many of us could name the first woman? Over 100 years later, the aviation industry remains male-dominated, especially at leadership level, and among flight crews. Yet women have made a significant contribution to the industry’s development. If you’d like a good starting place, then glide through our article on six great women aviators, written to coincide with Women of Aviation Week, also in March.
Inspire Them With Books
Of course, we don’t always have time to sit down with our kids for an hour or two and research historical figures together. Another route would to be to get hold of children’s books that present the life stories of the great women of history, which can then be read any time. It’s not hard to track down some really good examples. We’ve put together a list of 36 inspiring books that kids will return to time and again.
Make Women’s History A Cultural Experience
Learning from books and videos is one thing, but sometimes it takes a more hands-on approach to truly light a spark. Museums and galleries are increasingly redisplaying material to give a greater emphasis to women’s history (along with a greater awareness of race and gender issues). Sadly, museums will remain closed throughout March 2021 in the UK, but pencil in a date later in the year to make a visit to your local museum, and see how much they have to offer on women’s history. Be sure to give feedback if you think they could be doing more -- and equally if they’re doing a great job.
If you live in or close to a city, then chances are you’ll find a number of guided walks focussing on women’s history (at least when lockdowns are lifted). Those living in London might also get hold of the book Women’s London by Rachel Kolsky, which is genuinely one of the most illuminating books about the capital I’ve read in recent years. It includes a number of self-guided walking tours that kids and parents can enjoy together.
Finally, an inspiring word or two from a great writer or orator can stay with you for life. Kidadl features dozens of articles that round together inspiring quotes from great people. Try, for example, these quotes to celebrate girl power and champion women’s rights, or these insights from Emmeline Pankhurst and Mary Wollstonecraft.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
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Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
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