December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude: Introducing Gratitude to Children

Because the benefits of gratitude are so powerful, it is important to introduce this concept to young children at a young age. As with many skills introduced in early childhood, you may only be laying the foundation upon which more advanced skills will be built, but that foundation is essential to the children in your care.

Begin your introduction of gratitude with children by defining what the word means, depending on the children in your care, you may want to introduce and use different words such as:

  • People or things that make us happy
  • The good stuff in our lives
  • People who are nice/kind
  • People or things that make our hearts smile
  • People or things we want to high-five
  • People or things we appreciate
  • People or things we want to recognize or acknowledge

The language or visualizations that resonate with the children in your care is more important that knowing the vocabulary associated with gratitude or thankfulness. These concepts may be too abstract for the children to understand, but associating gratefulness with the idea of hearts smiling, may make more sense.

From there, you can help children identify moments in the day when gratefulness is appropriate. Start by modeling for children how to express gratitude:

  • It makes me happy to see you all working together to clean up the blocks.
  • When we sing songs together it makes my heart smile.
  • I am so glad we can be inside our classroom together on this rainy day.
  • Yum! I love orange slices, I am thankful that I can taste their sweetness.
  • Our gerbils, Sam and Sal, always make me smile. I want to give them high-fives for being so awesome.
  • I want to take a moment to recognize Josiah, who set the tables for lunch today.

You can also use children’s literature to highlight opportunities for gratitude. Incorporate conversations about gratitude into your large group meetings and individual conversations with children.

You may also find times during the day when you can encourage children to show gratitude. You might encourage children to use their own words to express their thankfulness, but recognize that this may be difficult for younger children. It begins with a simple thank you and will progress into more complex recognition of others and events.

Work some of the following activities into your weekly lesson planning and classroom rituals:

  • Thank You Jar – Children can place the name of a person they want to thank into the jar. A few times a week, reach into the jar and read a few of these entries.
  • Compose thank you letters to… anyone – Pick a person each week that you want to thank, the director, a parent, the cook, the mail carrier, the director of the latest blockbuster movie. It doesn’t matter who you write to, just create a habit of showing appreciation for others.
  • What’s Awesome about Me – Regularly ask children to identify positive aspects of themselves and their abilities. Transcribe the children’s words and encourage them to draw pictures of the things they are grateful for about themselves.
  • Charity activities – Collect mittens and hats for children in need. Hold a pet food drive for a local shelter. Raise donations for a family in need. During these events, hold discussions with children about the good things they have in their lives and tap into the good feelings that helping others generate.

For the main article Cultivating Gratitude, CLICK HERE

For the article Research on Gratitude – The Benefits, CLICK HERE

For the article Things to be Grateful For, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies for Adults, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude: Strategies for Adults

To feel the benefits of gratitude in your life, you must regularly and intentionally examine your focus. Here are a few specific strategies you can try to help you cultivate gratitude in your life and with family or coworkers:

  • Keep a gratitude journal – Make physical note each day of the things you are grateful for. Do this in the morning, in the evening, or both!
  • Post it: Option 1 – In this first option, you can stick Post-it notes around your home and workplace that remind you take 15 seconds to think of something you are thankful for. There are also apps you can download on your phone that send random notifications to practice a moment of gratitude.
  • Post it: Option 2 – Post your gratitude on social media. This not only helps you keep a record that you can look back on, but it also gives recognition to the people you include in your posts. In addition, you’ll be modeling gratitude to others on social media who may benefit from taking a moment to be grateful for the things in their lives.
  • Meeting moments – Begin each meeting with a moment of gratitude. People don’t necessarily have to share their thoughts in the meeting, but it may be powerful to say, “I am glad we are meeting today. I am grateful for the things you do that make my job easier. I’d like to just take a moment to allow you to think of something you are grateful for, and then we will get started with our agenda.”
  • Verbalizing gratitude – Commit to sharing your gratitude with others twice a day, to start. Work your way up to verbalizing your gratitude 10 times a day. These can be very informal discussions – the other person doesn’t even need to know what you are doing. You might just tell the person you are holding the door open for, that you are so thankful for the warm sunshine today! The point is to get into the habit of speaking your gratitude aloud.
  • Gratitude pal – Find someone else you know who wants to cultivate more gratitude in their lives. Touch base with that person each week, or even every day, to share the things you are grateful for.

For the main article Cultivating Gratitude, CLICK HERE

For the article Research on Gratitude – The Benefits, CLICK HERE

For the article Things to be Grateful For, CLICK HERE

For the article Introducing Gratitude to Children, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude: Things to be Grateful For

In his article, The Six Things We All Need to be Thankful For, Glenn Gesher, Ph.D., encourage us to first look to the things closest to us to cultivate gratitude. According to Gesher, focusing on the following things is a great place to begin our gratitude practice:

Food, shelter, and the basics: Instead of focusing on the fact that you don’t live in a mansion, you can focus on the fact that you have a dwelling that protects you from the elements and allows you and your family to gather and sleep safely. It doesn’t matter if you rent or own your home, if it is an apartment or a 3 bedroom home with a yard. You may not have the finest foods in the refrigerator, you may not have a fully stocked pantry, but being thankful for the last meal you ate helps shift the focus toward abundance rather than lack. Showing appreciation for the basics is the very first step in cultivating gratitude.

Family: This includes partners, parents, children, in-laws and other extended family members. Do they always meet all of our expectations? Probably not; but shifting focus away from that and toward what they do provide us is the next step in cultivating gratefulness in our lives. Perhaps they listen to us, or help us get from place to place; they may share vegetables from their garden, or tell us funny stories. Focus on these positive aspects more often that you focus on the frustrating things that family members do and watch your feelings of gratitude soar.

Pets: Take time to appreciate the love and comfort that is so freely given by the animals in your life. Again, pets can cause frustration in our lives from time to time. That frustration can actually act as a signal to intentionally shift your focus to something you appreciate about your pet.

To add to Gesher’s list, you can also find opportunities throughout the day to appreciate some of these things:

  • Your health: Identify elements of your health that serve you well.
  • Your skills and abilities: Find ways to acknowledge how your abilities have helped you get where you are in life.
  • Your friends: How do your friends support you during challenging moments?
  • Your coworkers: Identify the things coworkers do that contribute to the success of the program.
  • Community helpers: Recognize the service of people who dedicate their lives to making sure your community continues to function smoothly.
  • The Internet: List the ways that the internet helps simplify your life and keeps you in contact with friends and loved ones.
  • Modern transportation: Think of the ways that the modes of transportation you use have a positive impact on your life.
  • Indoor plumbing: This may seem like a stretch, but somedays this might be all that you can find to be grateful for… but even on our toughest days, we can all be grateful that we no longer use outhouses!

For the main article Cultivating Gratitude, CLICK HERE

For the article Research on Gratitude – The Benefits, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies for Adults, CLICK HERE

For the article Introducing Gratitude to Children, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude: Research on Gratitude – The Benefits

Social scientists have been interested in the impact of gratitude in the lives of people from around the globe. They have found that gratitude can have positive social, emotional, and health benefits.

Below is a list of just a few of the benefits reported by scientific studies. The list was originally compiled by the folks at Happier Human. Check out the original list for links to the research studies. (LINK TO https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/)

Studies found that people who practice gratitude:

  • Have increased self esteem
  • Are more optimistic
  • Are kinder
  • Have more friendships that are deeper in nature
  • Feel more relaxed
  • Have happier memories
  • Are less self-centered
  • Show increased productivity at work
  • Demonstrate better decision making skills
  • Experience better sleep
  • Have increased energy
  • Exercise more

One study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that:

“Grateful people report themselves as being less materialist and less envious. In particular, grateful people report being more willing to part with their possessions, more generous with them, less envious of the material wealth of others, less committed to the idea that material wealth brings happiness. Apparently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.”

This finding is especially relevant to the field of early childhood education, where salaries tend to be lower than other fields. It can be easy to slide into negativity due to the financial challenges that being part of this field presents. Cultivating gratitude for the people, events, and opportunities in our lives can help us maintain a positive perspective on our lives.

For the main article Cultivating Gratitude, CLICK HERE

For the article Things to be Grateful For, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies for Adults, CLICK HERE

For the article Introducing Gratitude to Children, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude

Regardless of your religious or cultural background, the end of the year is usually a time for gathering with family and friends, reflecting on the year, and planning for the future. It is also a time of increased stress and pressure to consume; whether that consumption is related to food or the biggest, newest, fastest, most popular toy or gadget. We are bombarded from images in the media and advertising designed to influence our purchasing decisions. We may also feel pressure to meet the perceived expectations of family and friends to bring the best dessert to the party or buy top-of-the-line gifts.

Our consumer society isn’t going to change any time soon. So, how do we combat the pressures that sometimes overshadow the end of the year celebrations and gatherings with friends and family?

The answer is surprisingly, very simple. It is free, accessible to everyone, and readily available day or night. The answer is Gratitude.

In the simplest terms, gratitude is the act of appreciating what is present in your life. Expressing gratitude involves shifting your focus away from what you wish you had and turning your attention to the conditions that serve you in your life. Gratitude is also one of the most important things that you can do in your effort to incorporate self-care into your professional practices.

In this month’s newsletter, we will explore the benefits of gratitude, ways that you can cultivate more gratitude in your life, and how to introduce this concept to the children in your care.

For the article Research on Gratitude – The Benefits, CLICK HERE

For the article Things to be Grateful For, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies for Adults, CLICK HERE

For the article Introducing Gratitude to Children, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Student Spotlight – Jacqui Syers

My name is Jacqui Syers and I live in Wayland, Michigan.  I began my career in early childhood right after college, 4 years ago.  I was a Spanish teacher for a preschool when I first started my career. It really launched me into my love for teaching.  I am now a Pre-K teacher at Wayland Union- Baker Elementary.

My favorite time of the day to spend with children is during lunch.  They are so full of questions, stories, and eager to show you what they have learned.  Between counting their food, asking what my fourth favorite type of dinosaur is, and telling me all about their time at the park.  My children’s favorite time if the day is recess.  They love the playground.

My motivation comes from my passion of being a self-taught teacher.  I love watching the progress that children make through the year, academically and socially.

What I enjoy most about my job is being able to wake up in the morning and love the fact that I love going to work.  I love my job.  I love that I get to shape the minds of the future every day in my classroom.  I love that they teach me as well, I never stop learning.

In my free time I fish with my husband, John.  I enjoy gardening flowers, vegetables, and fruits.  I love to bake anything, mostly my grandma’s recipes.  I also love to cook Pinterest dinners with my husband.

I participated in the Early Childhood Credential Certification program.  I am so excited to have this certification and continue on with my education.  My coach has continued to push me to do my best.  She always takes time to encourage me and compliment me on my successes.  I feel so blessed in life in general.  I plan to keep in contact with my CCEI coach and taking further education courses for my professional development hours.  In the future I believe that my career will be taking me to get my Masters in Education and becoming a Principal of an Elementary School.

I would recommend CCEI to anyone!  It has been an awesome program for me and helped me learn a lot about my job.  I am fortunate to have a great coach that has helped me through this process.

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Addressing Homelessness: The Role of the Early Childhood Educator

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers SOC105: Addressing Homelessness: The Role of the Early Childhood Educator as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users November 1-30, 2018.

Child care professionals need to understand the prevalence and impact of homelessness. This information prepares them to create supportive environments for children and families who experience homelessness. It is important to note that the experience of homelessness is not necessarily confined to urban or rural areas affected by poverty. Since the economic recession of the late 2000’s, many families have experienced loss of employment or under-employment, which has affected their living situations.  According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, homelessness affects children in every state, city, and county in America.

According to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) 2016 report entitled Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50 State Profile, the ACF summarized the total population of children under the age of 6 is over 24 million and of those children, over 1.2 million were homeless.  Furthermore, 1 child in 20 under the age of 6 experiences homelessness.  The summary found that only 8% of homeless children were served in federal programs. A review of the individual state data shows that some states are doing a better job than others at meeting the needs of homeless children.  Percentages at the state level range from 4% to 35% of homeless children under the age of 6 receiving educational services through Head Start or Early Head Start.

This course provides participants with an understanding of their role in supporting children and families who experience homelessness. The course explores the prevalence of homelessness as well as its causes and impacts on the developing child. Participants will discover ways they can promote positive outcomes for those who are affected by homelessness through a variety of policies and classroom practices.

“Many of the strategies recommended in this course will help to create an environment where all children can experience success,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “Every child benefits from high quality early childhood education experiences, especially children experiencing trauma associated with homelessness.”

SOC105: Addressing Homelessness: The Role of the Early Childhood Educator is a two-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute®, a division of Excelligence Learning Corporation, provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

Creating a Culture of Mutual Trust and Partnership

Center Staff Training

November 10-18 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.  The CCEI November Newsletter focuses on ways that caregivers can meet children’s basic needs and support families as they work to do the same. In many cases, this work will occur within the safety of the child’s consistent and comfortable home.  However, consider that in some cases, families may experience economic hardship, homelessness, or other more severe situation that prevents them from meeting their child’s most basic needs.

In order to support children and families, early childhood professionals need to be aware of family circumstances. However these situations are often shrouded in shame or embarrassment. Families may not be willing to talk openly about their living arrangements or financial hardships.

In order to create relationships with families in which they feel comfortable sharing information with us, we have to work to eliminate some of those feelings of shame or embarrassment. This can be accomplished through the proactive creation of partnership between families and members of the program staff.

By proactive, we mean that communication about these sensitive topics is conducted prior to the need for the conversations.

  • Program staff should incorporate collaborative language into their conversations with families. It might sound something like this, “When you enroll your child here, we become partners in preparing your child for success in all areas of life. We will often seek important information from you, and in turn we will keep you informed of our observations. We will share strategies with you as part of this shared responsibility, and hope that you will keep us informed of any changes in your family’s situation that might impact your child’s success.”
  • When a family enrolls, regardless of their current economic standing in the community, they should be informed of the community resources that the program makes available to families. It might sound something like this, “We are committed to the success of each family and child.  We want you to know now that if you are ever in need of community resource, for any reason, we are here to help you.  We will maintain your privacy in these situations because your trust in us is vital to our partnership.”
  • As children move through the program, regular communication is provided in ways the meet the families unique needs and preferences. Some families may prefer written communication while others may prefer to have conversations.  These interactions should always include an invitation to the family to share their observations.  It might sound something like this, “We have been introducing a number of self-calming strategies to the children this month. Here is one example… If you have an opportunity to try this strategy at home, we would love to hear about how it worked out for you.”
  • Throughout the year, staff members share relevant information in nonthreatening ways. This might include sharing resources and strategies through written or verbal communication. It might sound something like this, “I went to a training last week and walked away with so much to think about.  I am excited to share a few highlights from the training with you. I am eager to hear your thoughts about the topic.  Please let me know if you have any questions.”
  • Displays, decorations, celebrations, and gatherings reiterate the partnership that you are attempting to create. Bulletin boards, newsletters, the program website, etc. should all highlight the sense of partnership and community you hope to establish.

Though these efforts, families will receive the message that this partnership exists. If a need for additional resources arises, families will already view your program as a trusted ally.

Tell us how you have built trusting partnerships with families on Facebook here.