Thanksgiving at my house is very celebratory. We are expecting twenty today and I can’t wait! My Pilgrim and Native American figurines are on display, and our dining room server looks very festive with decorative pinecone and straw turkeys.
Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite holiday. It is a holiday that all of us can enjoy since it is not religiously based, but instead a celebration of religious freedom. It is also a time to reflect on the goodness, and bounty that fills our lives. At LANK, the celebration involves discussion about traditional holiday foods, Native American culture, and a glimpse into the history of how people used to live their lives. But, most significantly our classroom chatter revolves around the concept of being “thankful”. All of our classes are busy making books, decorating turkey feathers, and singing songs that encourage our little ones to express thankfulness.
Parents and teachers can impact how their children express gratitude by thinking of it as a process; one that can actually be modeled and taught. Here are some basic steps that can help jumpstart the important and gradual process of grateful behavior that will reap positive effects for our children and the world.
Have children make cards or illustrate pictures for others. These can be for specific thank yous, or sent as general niceties. A former student of mine started a campaign (while in preschool) to send cards to those serving in the military, hospital bound children, elderly homes, etc.…and it is still going strong today. Google Caring Kids Cards for inspiration.
Teach children to understand the “why” of thankfulness. As an example: “thank you for the sweater is more impactful when children learn to say thank you for the nice sweater—it will keep me warm this winter.
Have “look only” days when shopping. Enjoy looking at items in a store, but don’t buy anything. This is difficult, but practicing restraint is very important so children can appreciate what they already have.
Do something active! Participate in a canned food drive, or toy collection. Allow your child to help choose and deliver the items.
Prepare homemade gifts. Let your child help in both the preparation and the giving.
Read books about giving, thankfulness and acts of kindness. Some of my favorites are listed below. These are great for conversation and reflection. Make these kinds of books a staple in your own home, and thankful conversation a daily habit.
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Sylvester and The Magic Pebble by William Steig
Thanksgiving is For Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Please know that at LANK we are thankful for each one of you and your children. You contribute to our school every day by giving us your time, energy, and of course the trust to care for your lovely children.