Part of our Counselor’s Corner series. Click to read other posts in the Counselor’s Corner.
It can be difficult with the hustle and bustle of the holidays to pause for a moment and reflect on the people and things for which we feel thankful. Here are some ideas for giving thanks and showing gratitude to others this holiday season—and year ‘round. Every act of kindness, appreciation, or gratitude can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.
Help Students Reflect and Take Action
Set aside time in your class, no matter what subject or area you teach, to help students reflect upon people or things for which they are thankful. There are lots of cool ideas on Pinterest for visually displaying who and what students are thankful for. Some examples include creating a Be Thankful board or a Thankful Tree. Have students brainstorm ways they could show thanks for the people and things for which they are grateful. Challenge students to perform one act of kindness or gesture of gratitude to people they are thankful for.
Team Up to Help Others
We tend to take many things in our everyday lives for granted, such as the shoes on our feet, the food on our tables, and the roofs over our heads. According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, approximately 600,000 individuals live on the street each night. There are many ways that we can help those in need around us. Contact a local homeless shelter or community aid agency and ask what items are most needed at their organization. Host a drive with your school or organization to collect high-need items for your local shelters and aid agencies. Provide information to students and staff about the organization and the population of individuals it serves to help them better understand how their contribution will make a difference. Once you have collected items, have students help deliver the items, if possible.
Pay It Forward
Even if you do not have a specific person or thing in mind for which you are thankful, you can still do something that sparks gratitude and kindness in others. Pay attention to the world around you and be on the lookout for people who could use some cheering up or help, even if you don’t know them. Do something out of the kindness of your heart with no expectation of being repaid or thanked. Help a neighbor shovel snow. Give an anonymous gift to a family in need. At a restaurant, pay the bill for a parent with fussy kids. Buy coffee for the person behind you at the coffee shop. Small deeds like this can create a ripple effect and inspire others to do something kind for someone else.
How do you give thanks or show gratitude?
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I love the pay-it-forward concept! We have strips of things students can do to complete a Random Act of Kindness and we pass them out in our middle school hallway. The students have really taken to it and love when we have our basket of paper out in the morning! It is so nice when you see initiatives such as these begining to really change the environment. Today, someone left an anonymous envelope on one of the counselor’s desks with a note that said, “use this at the book fair for a few students who do not have the money”…with a $100 bill!