I am lucky to participate in Minnesota’s Early Childhood Family Education program with my two children. At the beginning of our weekly class, each parent shares a joy. The purpose of this ritual is to build a culture of gratitude, even on days when our job feels thankless. After recovering from the stomach bug, we’re thankful for health. When it’s brutally cold outside, we’re thankful for a warm place to gather. Our kids keep us up all night, but we’re thankful for their smiles.

heart on handsThis simple exercise is more meaningful than it may seem. Scholars assert that if we learn to foster gratitude instead of cynicism, our whole culture can change. Think of the ways in which this idea could transform your school. Teachers and administrators who feel appreciated will in turn be more appreciative. A student who is thanked is more inclined to participate. Gratitude grows within the school walls and extends beyond as children learn the value of being thankful. It’s completely achievable—and surprisingly easy.

A recent Edutopia newsletter contained a series of articles on promoting gratitude in our schools. This article offers many ideas for incorporating gratitude into your day. This one is about how gratitude builds character and health. And this article discusses gratitude as an antidote to the cynicism you may experience from those around you.

As individuals, we may underestimate our ability to change the culture. Let’s start with gratitude and see what happens. We at Read Naturally are certainly grateful for you and the important work you do. In case you don’t hear it enough: Thank you!