Schools can strengthen students’ connections to teachers, schools and communities. Research done since 2006 suggests there is a free, simple, effective practice that can be placed into existing curriculum across subjects and grade levels: teaching gratitude. Here are some ideas for first steps:
- Class meetings. Positive Discipline class meetings start with compliments. Often the compliments are a form of appreciation and gratitude. They build connection and empathy, too.
- A gratitude journal. Have students keep a daily gratitude journal. Studies have shown that this single activity is connected to more optimism and life satisfaction, fewer physical complaints and fewer negative emotions. Journaling ideas might include:
- Write 3 or 4 things and/or people they are grateful for and why.
- Write a specific letter of gratitude to a person they have not thanked or appreciated. They could read or send the letter to the person.
- Respond to prompts, for example, “My day/life is better because __________” or even “I am grateful for chores because ____________”, to encourage them to think more deeply.
- Share how their family practices gratitude.
- A gratitude wall. Invite students to share thing that they are grateful for in a designated space on a wall of the classroom. Join them in writing things you are grateful for.