It is no secret that school plays a crucial role in a child’s development. As such, it is to no surprise that teaching the children gratitude within a classroom setting is very beneficial and crucial. There was a study conducted by Jeffrey Froh who is a researcher of gratitude in youth, which tested a new curriculum for elementary students that included gratitude. For one week the students had thirty-minute long lessons about the three types of appraisal that tend to make us free l grateful (these are that someone has intentionally found something to benefit us, that proving this benefit was costly to them, and that the benefit is valuable to us). After this week, those students who were in the study showed an increase in gratitude, and this was seen in application when those children wrote 80% more thank-you notes to the PTA than the children who did not receive those lessons. In the next part of the study the students received one lesson per week over the course of five weeks, and the results were tested right after the program’s completion and a few more times within the next five months. The results were very positive. The students who received the lessons increased their positive emotions and grateful thinking, and the differences between the two groups were even more evident months later after the programs’ end. This means that the lessons on gratitude had meaningful, lasting effects. This study confirmed the idea that gratitude taught early on in children does have an optimistic outcome.
Now that it is evident that teaching gratitude within a classroom setting is necessary, we will look at ways through which this can be done:
- The first thing that you, as a teacher, can do is to draw the attention of students to the positive things that happen. Children are like little sponges that soak everything up, so it is crucial for adults to be a good example. Make sure to comment on things you are grateful for and to not focus on the negatives. For example, you can say how thankful you are when a student picks up the trash around the classroom, as such showing the students that this is what should be done and leads to happiness.
- Read books about gratitude. This is one of the simplest ways to teach children about this topic. Choose books that focus on themes of gratitude and create lessons that are centered on reinforcing the idea. Have the students summarize the book, kind the key idea, explain the author’s purpose, and so forth.
- Have students keep a gratitude journal. You can make this a weekly activity and have them jot down three things that they are grateful for that week. You can also choose to have some students share so that others can gain insight into their experiences as well.