There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the upcoming election. Those of us who live in the District—whether we’re into politics or not—can’t avoid it. We also can’t avoid talking to our children about the presidency and its impact on the country. There are countless ways to educate children about the history of our leaders and how their actions affected the nation. And, here in Washington, D.C. especially, we have plenty of experiences that can help with those conversations. Whether you decide to visit any of these places because it’s Presidents Day or not, we in D.C. can visit anytime!
Here are several ways to learn about the American presidency with your kids on Presidents Day:
Wander Through President’s Park
The best way to check out the history of the presidency is to go to where the President lives. The White House Visitor’s Center is stunning. It has an inspiring video that left me thinking maybe even I could be president someday. It’s a great place for children to check out. It has exhibits with lots of buttons to push and weird White House memorabilia to look at. For those who are potty training, it also has a great bathroom.
Check Out a Memorial or Monument
My family’s favorites include the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Additionally, there’s the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the Tidal Basin, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial by the United States Capitol, and the James Buchanan Memorial by Meridian Hill Park. Visiting a memorial is a wonderful way to learn about a president. Taking children to visit these places can make such an impact on their learning and future curiosity about history.
Stroll Through a Cemetery
There’s nothing like learning … in a cemetery. Here in D.C., there are plenty of lessons to be learned in the very historic cemeteries that honor the lives who served our nation in so many ways. The Congressional Cemetary isn’t actually the resting place of a president but was a temporary resting place for a few. Of course, Arlington Cemetary is the final resting spot for a few presidents. It is also worth the visit to honor those who served our president and nation in other roles and are laid to rest there.
An Educational Way: Visit A Museum
The National Museum of American History has several exhibits that highlight the presidency and all that goes with it. Check out The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, The First Ladies, and the George Washington Sculpture to get the full scope of president-related content. In addition, Mt. Vernon hosts a free Washington’s Birthday Celebration that every Washingtonian should check out. And given that all of the American presidents have been men, I feel that it’s equally important to check out the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, which features all that women have tried to do in order to secure the vote and equality in representation in our nation. Perhaps someday this post can be updated to include a tribute to a female leader!
It’s important to remember that we’re lucky to live here in Washington D.C. for many reasons. We have the opportunity to educate our children on so many topics, including the legacy of our leaders through incredible experiences. If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate Presidents Day, check out our February Events Guide!