Thankfulness is at the core of our faith. As we acknowledge God as the giver of all good things, we are also better able to enjoy and appreciate our own lives and the persons with whom we come in contact. As catechists, it’s important that we work with parents to develop grateful hearts in the children to whom we minister. The following are some tips for promoting a spirit of thankfulness in the early childhood classroom:
- Model thankfulness. Be generous in acknowledging the contributions of each child in the class. Thank them for their answers to your questions, for volunteering to help, for sharing and cooperating with one another, and for the drawings and other little surprises children this age give to us as gifts. When talking about something good that is happening in the class, in the Church, or in the world, be sure to show thanks to God. For example, when mentioning that Christmas is coming, you might say, “I’m so thankful to God that Christmas is coming. It’s a time to remember God’s most important gift to us – Jesus.”
- Provide opportunities to give thanks. Be sure to pray before snack times, and pray prayers of thanksgiving in your circle times. Ask the children to think of one thing they would like to say “Thank you” to God for, and then go around the circle, allowing each child to name a blessing and responding as a group, “Thank you, God.” You may also wish to provide a time for the children to draw a picture of something for which they are thankful.
- Encourage the children to appreciate others in their lives who are blessings to them. Prompt them to name some of the things their parents, grandparents, babysitters, and teachers do for them, and ask them to make a “thank you” card for one of these special people.
- Prompt the children to express appreciation to one another. For example, you might say, “Emily, I see Isaiah is doing a great job sharing the markers with you. Can you tell him thank you for sharing?”
- When telling Scripture stories, talk about the blessings the characters in the story were given. Did they remember to say thank you to God and to others?
An attitude of thankfulness prepares us to act in charity towards one another, because it’s only when we understand all that we have been given that we understand all we have to give. Let’s take time to say, “thanks”!