“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero
What Cicero seemed to know over 2,000 years ago, psychologists are now affirming at a rapid rate; practicing gratitude is incredibly valuable. Among adults, gratitude has been shown to lower levels of depression and stress while increasing determination and attentiveness. Psychologists have found that even one gratitude writing task can positively impact the brain for months. And gratitude has a domino effect, because grateful people cause others to be grateful.
It’s often assumed that gratitude also positively affects children, but exciting new research out of the University of California, Berkeley finally proves that theory. In two studies of 8-11 year-olds and 14-19 year-olds, respectively, Jeffrey Froh and Giacomo Bono found that gratitude was tied to outcomes like:
- Higher GPA
- Less envy and depression
- More life satisfaction
- Emotional well-being being improved over a period of five months
It’s also clear through the research that gratitude is a deeply human trait, with benefits cutting across racial and socioeconomic lines. In a separate study of African-American youth in low-income schools, researchers found that increased gratitude was linked to increased academic interest, better academic performance, and positive family relationship, among others.
The best part? Integrating gratitude in the classroom does not have to be difficult, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. The holiday is built around being thankful, so there is no better time than now to teach your students about its importance.
Here are three tips on getting started:
1. Start a Class Gratitude Journal
The impact of practicing daily gratitude is a choice that pays dividends. You can have the same prompt every day, or you can vary it with different prompts throughout the week. Or you can just download and print out our Weekly Frontier Gratitude Journal.
2. A Thankful Box
This is one of my personal favorite Thanksgiving traditions. Everyone in my house rips up pieces of paper, passes around the box and reads from the notes inside. Some are funny, some are serious, some make you cry, but I always feel blessed by the end.
Also, it doesn’t require you to buy something out of pocket! The materials needed: some blank pieces of paper and a shoebox!
3. A Lesson on Gratitude
Frontier offers three engaging Thanksgiving lessons on gratitude for 3rd-8th grade teachers. Frontier is the best tool for teachers to increase critical thinking in the classroom through reading and writing lessons. The lessons include texts and videos with powerful stories about gratitude that you can share with your students.