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National Oatmeal Waffles Day. National Potato Chip Day. National Balloon Day.

These are just a few of the hundreds of national days of recognition that take place annually in the United States. Chances are good you’re not going to send out cards on August 5, which is National Underwear Day. While some of them seem more amusing than others, websites like National Awareness Days focuses on those that have a more serious tone.

For parents who are looking for opportunities to teach their children about a variety of important topics, becoming familiar with these special days can provide them with a great way to start discussions and engage in teaching moments with their kids. For example, the following three days offer opportunities for valuable lessons:

Safer Internet Day

Organized by Insafe and taking place on February 11 of every year, Safer Internet Day focuses on keeping kids and teens safe while they are online. With the goal of the day in mind, “Let’s create a better internet together”, Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity for parents to sit down with their children and talk with them about the dangers of the internet. They can also show their kids some of the things that they have done to keep their own identity as secure as possible, whether that’s keeping a tight grip on their logins and passwords, or signing up for identity protection services. They can illustrate the importance of being careful about who they share personal and financial information with, and not divulging too much on social media sites. Parents can also visit the Safer Internet Day site with their kids and teens to find resources from Insafe and other organizations that will help everyone in the family learn about internet safety.

World Autism Awareness Day

As Autism Speaks notes, the seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day will take place on April 2, 2014. In addition to giving parents of kids with autism a special day to host fundraisers and other events, it is also an outstanding opportunity for parents of typical kids to teach them about autism and how it can impact those who have it. If their child or teen has someone in class who has autism, this national awareness day is a great chance to research autism together, and how it can impact their lives. Parents can explain that while interacting and communicating with other people is easy for a lot of kids, those who are autistic can find this to be incredibly challenging. Parents can also help their kids research famous people who are autistic and who have achieved a lot of success, including actress Daryl Hannah.

Global Handwashing Day

As parents probably know quite well, kids are not always the greatest about washing their hands. On October 15, they can honor Global Handwashing Day by talking about the importance of keeping their hands as clean as possible; especially after going to the bathroom, or before they sit down to eat a snack or meal. As Global Handwashing points out, properly washing the hands with soap is the best and cheapest way to prevent some pretty nasty bugs, including diarrhea and acute respiratory infections. Parents can take kids shopping for some special hand soap just for them, and then give them a refresher course on the proper way to wash their hands.

Written by Michelle Collins: Community volunteer, political activist, social networking maven.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to use awareness days to teach lessons.