How to Teach Gratitude (Hint - it's Hard and Takes a Lifetime)
If there's one thing I would love for my own children to understand, it's gratitude. I may not use the word a lot, but I want them to feel it, to express it, to understand how fortunate they are. As important as gratitude is, it's one of the most difficult things to teach. It seems to be one of those things that people grow to understand more thoroughly after they have experienced hardship.
To be honest, looking back, I don't think I was a particularly grateful child. Did I feel grateful to my parents for those camping trips? The flights or drives down to Seattle to see grandparents? Did I feel gratitude for the roof over my head? The food in my belly? The clothes, education, sports opportunities? No. I thought they were my due simply for being who I was - a middle-class kid in America. And trust me, I didn't even think that deeply about it at the time. It's only in retrospect that I can see how fortunate I was.
My students are no different. I teach at a school where the majority of kids are middle class or higher, financially. Having enough isn't the only key to happiness, but it sure helps. These are kids who, for the most part, have never had to worry about where they would sleep at night, or whether there would be enough food to eat. I really believe that the experience of Covid has done much to instill a sense of gratitude in kids who may not have felt a lot of it before. They are grateful to be at school. Grateful to see their friends. The experience is different than it used to be, but after ten months at home, they were just so darned happy to be there. They are learning gratitude for simple things.
The image I'm sharing in my post today is one I took while out on a lunchtime walk at the school last fall. A child had pinned this simple image of hope to a power pole. I for one, am grateful for it. Our students have as much to teach us about gratitude as we have to teach them. I'm ready to learn.