Children receive many gifts this time of year. Let us teach them thankfulness as they receive!
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton
As young as three and four, a child can express his thanks as a parent writes his words for him onto a note. By six or seven, he can write his own notes to Grandma and Grandpa or anyone who gives him a gift. Using lined paper for young children or for any child with dysgraphia can help legibility.
Thankfulness need not be limited to sending thank-you notes, although thank-you notes are an important place to begin. Daily gratitude can fight self-pity, boost physical health, counter depressive tendencies, and even improve relationships according to research. We help our children – especially those with mental illness, anxiety, depression, or challenges such as special needs – when we teach them to find something (anything) for which to give thanks.
For this reason we created My Thankfulness Journals, Initially they can be “scribed” (i.e., dictated by the child as the parent or teacher writes), but by age 7 o 8, children can write in their own journals. Provide pre-writing prompts by category each day: foods you enjoyed today, places you visited, people you saw or met, something about the weather or nature, pets or animals, games you played. After brainstorming – perhaps accompanied by writing these with correct spelling on the board for the child to copy – he writes on his own.
Enhancing the Experience
Some families light candles during the special thankfulness writing. Others, like our family, save thankfulness for the end of the day. Just before bed, our children each write. My daughter prefers the Beginner version in a simple list format, and my son prefers the Intermediate version into which he can write more thoughtful paragraphs. Some homeschooling families use these journals for writing practice during the school day. Some churches include these in their Sunday School lessons. No matter how or when you choose to teach thankfulness, the habit will serve the child well.
More than this, being thankful reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above.” For this reason, each page includes a verse to help our children – and us – remember.
My Thankfulness Journals are now included in the latest Simply Classical package: Grammar, Greece, and Gratitude, but can also be purchased separately as stand-alone resources for home, church, or school.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:8-9)