by Jessica Brockardt, Elementary Coordinator
While November is often a month focused on gratitude, at MIR we consider gratitude and grace as something to be practiced daily. Showing gratitude is an essential part of who we are as humans; it strengthens our relationships and our connection to our community. Gratitude involves being sensitive and empathetic to others, and genuinely appreciating what others do for you. While children can quickly learn to say please and thank you, it takes time and guidance to help them truly learn to be grateful.
For the younger children at MIR, we start developing gratitude through grace and courtesy lessons. These lessons include: how to say “thank you” when you feel appreciation for something or someone, how to give and receive a compliment, and how to politely ask for help. This practice allows children to focus on the good and helps them cultivate a sense of gratitude from an early age. Younger children are typically thankful for tangible items such as toys, a blanket, or a favorite snack. As children grow older, they begin to express appreciation for more abstract things such as friendship, love, and kindness.
Gratitude is a conscious process, one that takes practice, patience, and a deep understanding that we are part of something bigger. Our teachers play a vital role in helping students cultivate gratitude. At the Elementary level, the curriculum allows children to place themselves in the context of both time and place. The process guides children as they understand what came before them in history, while also holding space for what is yet to come. They gain a deeper understanding of the people who came before them and their contributions to our society (Thank you to the Phoenicians for our alphabet!). This approach helps children cultivate a sense of gratitude and a humble appreciation of themselves and the world around them, as well as understand the importance of their contribution to society.
At home, you can incorporate the practice of gratitude by modeling appreciation through your words: “What a beautiful day, I am so thankful we can spend time together!” As adults, modeling gratitude through actions and language in everyday life can help cultivate a culture of gratitude within children. Teaching children to be grateful and show appreciation takes patience. Gratitude needs cultivation over time. Encouraging children to practice gratitude and modeling its importance is worth the effort as it lays the foundation for children to develop an optimistic outlook on life.