With Thanksgiving approaching, thoughts extend to the affective qualities of being “grateful". As we gather together and talk with our children about the feelings associated with thankfulness, parents and educators must consider whether their children comprehend the feelings associated with this holiday.
In this complex society, it may not be reasonable to expect children to understand and demonstrate the behaviors associated with appreciation and gratitude. Some children, especially children with disabilities, have learning profiles that may reflect difficulties with the abstract nature of social emotional development. When teaching abstract concepts, many students benefit from experiential learning, which involves them in activities that can directly connect them to their learning. Consider some of these activities in your holiday planning with your children:
Create ways to express "thank-you": When your young kids receive gifts, they should be expected to create and send a thank-you picture or short note within one day (or at the rate of one or two thank-you’s per day).
Be polite to Mr. Bear: Engage in role-play activities using good manners and saying “thank you” using stuffed animals and action figures to build a contextual understanding for "how" to express thankfulness.
Pick your top 3: At dinner or bedtime, take turns sharing the three best things about your day.
Commit it to memory: Find and memorize expressions of "thank-you" that can be applied across activities.
Make a "different" kind of gift list: Write down the things (preferably handmade) your preschoolers would like to give friends and family as holiday gifts.