Article in brief: Getting children involved in most of the UAE activities and events and making them aware of their traditions and heritage to instill in them a patriotism that will last for lifetime.
“He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn.” His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan is the late President of the UAE, May God rest his soul.
Children understand the significance of the National Day in the UAE, which is celebrated on the 2nd of December each year, because of their enjoyment to watch the fireworks, giant flags, and hear the national anthem that is played to reflect the feeling of loyalty and dignity for the country. But do all children know about the UAE history, and how Sheikh Zayed devoted his life to provide his people a better life? Are they aware of the current significant events that take place today in the UAE like the UAE Flag Day and Expo2020 that will have a great impact on UAE’s global image? And are children aware of their history and heritage?
“Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed to. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children for that new world.” said Sheikh Zayed. Preschool children soak up bits of knowledge from everyday involvement with their parents and surroundings. The time between birth and age of six is a time of growth and learning unparalleled to any in a later life. The four-year-old child continues learning about the environment through playing and imitating adults which shapes their own personality to approach the world.
While my four year old son was listening to the UAE presidential guard song, he focused on the repeated lyrics that stressed on the phrase “God; then our nation; then our president.” It really grabbed his attention and he started asking me, “Mom, who is the UAE president?” and proudly I stated “Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan”. “Roll back the tape mom, let me hear that part again” he insisted.
Here I started explaining that the Flag Day falls on the 3rd of November, the day of President Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s accession as President of the UAE. I highlighted general vital facts about my beloved country the UAE. What is there, what makes the UAE nationals appreciate the leaders and make them tremendously proud to be Emiratis in words that suit his speaking patterns. It’s never too early to keep children aware of the country’s activities and important events that take place regularly since they learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in their life.
The importance of what our children learn at home and through their relationship with their parents form a strong base of all that comes later. The most rapid stage in a child’s development occurs in their first 6 years of life and here we can play the teacher role to instill in them the patriotism. Children can learn the educational subjects perfectly at school but they’ll never be taught how to be patriotic since that kind of loyalty germinates at first from home.
Children, boys in particular, between the ages of six to eight have different preferences about fictional superheroes like Spiderman, Batman, The Hulk, and Iron Man. Parents can familiarize children about the occupation of the UAE three islands Abu Mousa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs which is a concern for most of the UAE nationals. Sadly, some of the UAE adolescents are not aware of that part of the UAE’s history. Moreover, some parents don’t want their children to be different from others so they tend to get them so involved with fictional superheroes. But we do have UAE heroes; like most of our grandmothers who tolerated a hard life before the formation of the UAE, and some of the UAE nationals who died as martyrs for their loyalty to the country. Children have to be educated about the history of the country in order to be fully aware of how much suffering our ancestors had gone through in the past and that will make them understand what patriotism is all about.
Instead of exposing children only to fictional characters, we should also familiarize them with some of the Emirati courageous models like the late Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who served as President of the United Arab Emirates since the formation of the Federation on the 2nd of December 1971.
Get your children involved in raising the UAE flag up high and encourage them to participate in festivities to introduce them to the UAE traditions and heritage. Enable your children to sail through the UAE history, and instill in them a love and patriosim that will last for lifetime.
Written in collaboration with Arabian Child organization. Visit www.arabianchild.org for more information about early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates.
A loving mother of a son who has changed her life and put it into perspective. Ayesha is a senior social media specialist, a Global Leader for young children in the Arab region, and a writer in few Arabic publications. Her column is written in collaboration with the Arabian Child organization, and offers inspiration and an in-depth exploration of early childhood development.