Presentation of Learning
Happy Me, Happy Homeschool
Saying thank you and counting our blessings is a November mainstay for most Americans—especially on the fourth Thursday of that month. But did you know that practicing gratitude is actually good for your health and well-being? Recent studies of gratitude journaling have shown surprising health benefits: better sleep, lower stress, and improved interpersonal relationships. It may also reduce materialism, heart disease, and symptoms of depression while encouraging generosity and healthier eating habits.
First grade iLEAD Exploration learner, Quinn Christie, and her family have been experiencing some of these benefits firsthand for the past year by including weekly gratitude journaling as part of their schooling practice. Quinn journals by drawing, coloring, and writing about the things she feels in her “Happy Me Journal.” The practice has provided a fun way for her to learn about herself, and help bring awareness to her emotions. It has also been a wonderful way to develop the good habits of mindfulness and reflection. As Quinn puts it, “I love when I get to write in my journal and I like coloring in all the pictures. I’m really grateful for healthy food, yummy treats, and playing with my brother and friends.”
Quinn’s mother chose “The Happy Me Journal” because she liked how the format was geared toward younger learners and provided lots of prompts for those newer to reading and writing. Quinn’s mother believes that showing and teaching gratitude doesn’t always come easy, but she is grateful there are so many tools and resources out there to help parents.
One great resource to help teach about gratitude comes from the Raising Grateful Children project at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and outlines the whole process of gratitude which includes noticing, thinking, feeling, and doing. Most parents teach the “doing” part of gratitude (saying thank you and writing thank you notes) but not the other three. Here are some questions they provided to ask your children designed to help:
NOTICE: What have you been given or what do you already have in your life for which you are grateful? Are there gifts behind the material gifts for which you are grateful, like someone thinking about you or caring about you enough to give you the gift?
THINK: Why do you think you received this gift? Do you think you owe the giver something in return? Do you think you earned the gift because of something you did yourself? Do you think the gift was something the giver had to give you? If you answered no to these questions, then you may be more likely to be grateful.
FEEL: Does it make you feel happy to get this gift? What does that feel like inside? What about the gift makes you feel happy? These questions help the child connect their positive feelings to the gifts that they receive in their lives.
DO: Is there a way you want to show how you feel about this gift? Does the feeling you have about this gift make you want to share that feeling by giving something to someone else? Prompting children after experiences of gratitude in order to motivate acts of gratitude, whether they be acts of appreciation or paying it forward, may help children connect their experiences and actions in the world.
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