As we enter this time of celebration, I wanted to share some thoughts and practical activities to encourage kids to be thankful this season and all year. At three-years-old, Rachel is thankful for her classroom guinea pig, Buster. Rachel’s friend, Lucas, is thankful for his stuffed kitty he has loved for as long as he can remember. During this season of giving, how do we encourage the children in our lives to pause and reflect on the things that are important to them?
Children in the preschool age group are so eager to share about things that are important to them–an animal (real or imaginary), a special friend or a family member. Encouraging an “attitude of gratitude” comes quite naturally at this age. As important adults in their world, we have a special opportunity to instill the virtue of thankfulness within these precious little ones’ hearts.
What is the benefit of expending the time and energy to develop this character trait? Developmentally, the concept of thankfulness increases a child’s feeling of self-worth as he realizes all that has been bestowed upon him. Expressing appreciation for the important people in her world (friends, family, teachers) leads to a greater understanding of the natural give and take of needing and helping others. A child that is grateful for the things he has and the people in his life will become a more positive, grateful teen and adult.
Each fall at my school, Rainbow Connection Preschool, the children prepare to sing festive songs and dance the “Turkey Tango” at their annual Pumpkin Pie for Parents event. Here we showcase what our children are truly thankful for by allowing them to express themselves in a creative and fun way. In addition to learning songs, the teachers write down each child’s thankful thoughts on a paper leaf to create beautiful centerpieces of fall trees filled with sentiments such as “I am thankful for my puppy and my mommy” and “I am thankful for spaghetti, my blankie and my family.”
We look for ways young children in this endeavor, not just during the season of Thanksgiving, but all year round.
As we go outside to play, we are thankful for the beautiful day.
As a newly hatched butterfly is released in the spring, we reflect on how we are thankful that God planned for such a lovely creation.
As we collect food for hungry families during “Project Kindness,” we are thankful that we ourselves have food to eat.
It is important to take advantage of opportunities to develop thankfulness in your child. Make thankfulness a daily activity. Your child will grow an attitude of gratitude and your grateful child will cultivate joy not only in their own heart, but in yours also!
Some ideas for families to cultivate thankfulness:
- Make a Thankful Tree—attach leaves to a small tree branch and write something you are thankful for each day.
- Start A Thankful Jar- Whenever your child thinks of a blessing, write it down during the day and place in the jar. At the end of the day, open the jar and count your blessings!
- Share Dinner Table Thanks– Sit as a family and eat dinner together. Go around the table and mention something from the day that you are thankful for.
Children model what they see. When surrounded by thankful adults, they intrinsically catch on to the idea of gratefulness, so be sure to give them a living example of a heart of gratitude all year round!
I love the natural thanksgiving that comes from a child’s heart when he is truly thankful. Encourage your family to think of the blessings that have been provided. Isn’t it interesting that “giving thanks” always seems to produce a happy heart!?
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Rainbow Connection Preschool is located in Richardson, Texas on E. Campbell Road (between Jupiter and Plano Rd.) and serves 18 months – 5 year olds Monday-Friday.
Their mission is to provide children a strong foundation for a Christian-based education that feeds their curiosity and equips them for readiness into Kindergarten. Their program offers a versatile developmental curriculum that encourages parent participation while at the same time emphasizes the value of education and fuels the child’s desire to learn.
To that end, all of the Rainbow Connection teachers hold Bachelor or Masters Degrees in education or a related field and continue child development training.
For more information on about the school, or enrollment for the current school year or 2015-2016, please contact 972-644-0283 or [email protected]. You’ll also find more information on their Facebook page.
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Phyllis Compton is a director and teacher of four year olds at Rainbow Connection Preschool, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education and Music from Point University in Atlanta, Georgia. She has three grown, married children, six grandchildren and two new grandsons on the way!