Research tells us that the more adults feel and show gratitude, the happier and healthier they are. Children who express gratitude tend to be kinder and more empathetic. But what is gratitude? A definition from Psychology Today states “gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has – as opposed to what one wants or needs”. Gratitude is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full. Gratitude is worth cultivating in students. Here are some ideas for how to do this in the classroom:
- Give them 4 or 5 minutes each day for two weeks to write what they are grateful for in their lives.
- Older students can keep track of their moods to see if they notice a change in their outlook on life.
- Have students focus on why they are grateful for others in their class. This helps them look at strengths and also encourages appreciating differences.
Plan an art project or activity around the theme of gratitude. Need ideas?
- Invite your students to brainstorm ideas.
- With your class, plan random acts of kindness around the school. Who could use appreciation and/or encouragement?
- Check out 101 Ways To Paint Without a Brush
- Check out gratitude projects on Pinterest
- All class meetings begin with compliments and appreciations to bring a sense of gratitude into the room.
- For the month of November, at one class meeting each week have students share something that he or she is grateful for.
- You can help them out by giving them a focus: “What are you grateful about at school?” “What are you grateful for about what you have learned?” “What are you grateful for about the friends you have?”
Children’s ability to think ‘gratefully’ can be strengthened. Gratitude is a social emotion – it brings people together and creates connections. It will help you build a community of learners.