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Schools have broken up for the holidays and the countdown to Christmas has begun. For many, this can mean too many presents and not enough gratitude. These holidays, try cutting back on the materialism and encourage your kids to embrace the true meaning and spirit of the festive season instead.
“Teaching your kids to say thank you and be grateful for what they have is important, especially over this time,” says Riverside College’s primary school vice principal Madelein Luttig. “Kids can get wrapped up in the gift giving and receiving frenzy and forget that Christmas is actually a time for appreciation, reflection and giving back.”
Parents need to make a consistent effort to encourage gratefulness in all aspects of their child’s lives; “Not only for material things, but also for the experiences they have and the people around them,” says Luttig.
Teach your kids some gratitude this festive season in five easy steps:
- Lead by example – Make an effort, especially during the festive season to verbalise throughout the day the things that you are grateful for – you’ll be amazed the knock-on effect this will have on your kids.
- Volunteer – Encourage your kids to do something for someone in need. Getting out there and actually doing something for someone else is a great way to teach kids gratitude (as well as compassion and empathy). Visit forgood.co.za to connect to an organisation looking for your help.
- Get the kids involved – Give your kids tasks to do over the holidays. Getting them to pitch in on all the holiday preparations, such as cooking, and cleaning will help them to appreciate what they have and all the work that goes into it.
- Write thank you notes – This is especially important over the festive season. Get your kids to write thank you notes for any gifts they receive or special experiences they are treated to. Make a special time to sit down and write these – they don’t have to be long, but allow them to do it on their own so they can really think about what they would like to say.
- Make gratitude a family event – Go around the dinner table each night taking turns to say one thing, person or experience that they are grateful for that day. As kids get older, encourage them to keep a daily gratitude journal. Being intentional about gratitude is a daily reminder about how lucky we are.