Gratitude does more than just make adults and kids feel good; "it also improves their mood, mental health, and life satisfaction, and it can jumpstart more purposeful engagement in life at a critical moment in their development, when their identity is taking shape" (Berkley, 2013). Gratitude is an emotion towards others...and something that is often "practiced".
Here are two simple practices to get students reflecting on gratitude:
1. Gratitude Journals - A notebook or journal to simple write down what they are grateful for. Take a few minutes every day to give students to write what they are thankful for. Take it a step farther by asking them to write why they are grateful for that item.
2. Gratitude Visit - Taking a moment to write a letter to someone who helped them, but they didn't properly thank. Students then read the letter to that person, and come back and share about their visit.
Professor Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono study the impacts and effects of gratitude on students. They came up with 3 principles that educators can use to promote gratitude in their students.
- Notice intentions. Try to encourage students to appreciate the thought behind gifts they receive—to consider how someone noticed their need and acted on it.
- Appreciate costs. Emphasize that when someone is helpful, that person usually sacrifices time or effort to provide the help.
- Recognize the value of benefits. Remind students that when others help us, they are providing us with “gifts.” Prompt students to focus on the personal value of the kind acts of others. One way teachers can bring this up is to have students complete the sentence stem “My day (or life) is better because…"
More Resources for Teaching Graditude
- You Can Do This - Practical tips and lessons for educators to build on gratitude in their classrooms.
- Dr. Kerry Howell's Graditute in Education - It's kind of long, but a good video to listen to. Here Dr. Howell talk about how and why gratitude in education can benefit students and staff. "When students thank when they think, they learn to think better."