by Katie Julius
Next Monday is Labor Day, unofficially marking the end of summer. Many Americans have the day off from work and school to celebrate with BBQs, picnics, or trips to the beach, but not everyone knows what exactly we celebrate on this national holiday. Do you?
A common misconception is that Labor Day is dedicated to our armed forces. While they are certainly deserving of the recognition, Labor Day is a patriotic holiday celebrating the work of everyday Americans, just like you!
According to the Department of Labor website, Labor Day was “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
The very first Labor Day occurred in New York City on September 5, 1882, spurred by the dismal working conditions in factories during the Industrial Revolution. Lead by the Central Labor Union, workers took the day off, unpaid, to march from City Hall to Union Square. (history.com)
The day was first recognized on the municipal level in 1885, and Oregon was the first state to pass a law recognizing the day in 1887. By 1894, 23 states celebrated the holiday and on June 28 of that same year, Congress passed an act to officially recognize Labor Day as a national holiday on the first Monday of September.
Holidays and their history make great opportunities for homeschool lessons, and Labor Day is no exception. Below are a few ideas for learners of all ages.
A study of community helpers is one way early elementary students can learn about the various people and jobs that make a community function. Education.com has several free resources, including community helper paper dolls kids can color and cut out as they learn about the different roles. Library books about various jobs and taking a tour of some of the places in your community can enhance your lessons.
Older elementary students can do a project researching a job they are interested in. They could interview someone who holds that position, learning about the education and training necessary as well as the responsibilities and tasks. Depending on the child’s interests and age, this information could be presented in a variety of ways, including a report, poster, or display. TeachersPayTeachers.com often has resources to aid in these types of projects.
Middle and high school students can spend some time looking into the history behind the labor movement and how it fits into the Industrial Revolution in various countries. Students could also do a career research project for a job they are interested in pursuing.
Since homeschooling moms are some of the hardest workers I know, I hope you take the day to enjoy rest from your labors. However you celebrate this day, we at CHEA of California, hope you have a wonderful, relaxing time with your friends and family!
Katie Julius serves at the Editor for CHEA of CA in addition to homeschooling her first-grade daughter in Southern California.