Helping School-agers Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

Did you know that one of the most important things you can do for your child’s emotional, physical and social development and well-being is to teach them how to be grateful for the people and things in their life.

You can incorporate small easy habits into your daily routines that teach children gratitude that will shape and enrich their lives as well as strengthen their relationships with others.

  • Model thankfulness – thank people who help you. For example the person who bags your groceries, the waiter who serves your meal, the person who held the door for you.
  • Hand write thank you notes – children can do this for gifts and help they have received. One sentence per grade is a good rule of thumb.
  • Create a gratitude journal or jar – fill it with handwritten notes or drawings of things they are grateful for. Such as “I am glad grandma came to visit”.
  • Give credit where it is due – when your child accomplishes a goal, in addition to praising them point out who helped them reach that goal (a coach, teacher, friend).
  • Celebrate your year – every birthday, make a list of things you are grateful for that year.  A 5 year old can think of 5 things, while a 10 year old can think of 10 things.
  • Read books about gratitude – Check out All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang, Emily’s Magic Words by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post, or The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood.
  • Volunteer and help others together – children learn that the world exists outside themselves when they serve others.
  • Verbally express appreciation by focusing on key words – think of and use words such as blessed, lucky, fortunate, glad, content, pleased and joyful.

Remind children to be kind and have empathy for others. When they consider the needs of others and think about how someone responded to their kindness, it increases appreciation for that person’s kindness as well.  Children who learn to be grateful have a richer view of themselves and the world around them. 


Homework Tips for Parents

It is often hard for a working parent to balance work, their child’s outside sporting events, preparing meals and then finding time to give their child the help they often need with homework.  What’s a busy parent to do?  First realize that you are not alone.  There are many parents feeling the same and struggling to get it all done.  It can be done, but it takes planning.  This article may help with one of your concerns—homework.   The U.S Department of Education has compiled a list of homework tips for parents.

  • Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework.
    Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions, such as people coming and going.
  • Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper, pencils and a dictionary, are available.
    Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.
  • Help your child with time management.
    Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don’t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.
  • Be positive about homework.
    Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.
  • When your child does homework, you do homework.
    Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.
  • When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.
    Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
  • When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it.
    Cooperate with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.
  • If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away.
    Too much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills.
  • Stay informed.
    Talk with your child’s teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child’s class rules are.
  • Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.
    Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.
  • Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
    Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.
  • Reward progress in homework.
    If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

It is also important for parents to remember that balancing school, homework, outside events and home life can also be challenging for children.  Children want to please their parents and often feel pressure when they struggle with getting everything done.  It is important that children are encourage and comforted when the pressure of balancing it all shows.

New Year’s Resolutions for School Age Children

It seems that at the beginning of every year people reassess their lives and priorities and set goals for the year ahead.  This is a great task to do with your school age children as well.  Teaching your children to look at ways to improve themselves can be very empowering.

One great area to talk with your children about is chores around the house.  School agers are all old enough to be helping keep the house looking good and staying clean.  This also helps instill a sense of responsibility and pride in keeping things they own in good shape.  Children can take on tasks with varying complexity depending on their age.  Younger children can help set and clear the dinner table, keep their rooms picked up and free of toys and clothes on the floor, make their own beds or feeding the family pets.  Older children can help with dusting, vacuuming, yard work and even helping with cooking.  Try to think of ways that they can not only be helpful, but maybe join you in a task to make it more fun for everyone!

In February, the PCA curriculum also looks at Healthy Bodies in Motion.  Being healthier and getting more exercise is something that benefits the whole family.  Talk to your children about ways in which they can eat better!  Again, work together to find ways to substitute those unhealthy food choices for fruit, veggies and fun swaps like peanut butter on an apple or hummus and celery.  It’s always better to discuss these options with them to get their “buy in” on these new snacks!  Goals like limiting soda, sugary snacks and fast food are always winners!  Finally, find ways to get your kids moving more.  Take family walks, go for bike rides, hiking at a local park or just throwing the ball outside together are great for children and parents.  Creating active time together is not only healthy but a great way to create fun family memories.