Gratitude is a virtue that we naturally want to instill in our children. An attitude of gratitude will bless them throughout their entire lives. Naturally, the month of November and the Thanksgiving holiday offer a wonderful opportunity to seize the moment and include gratitude practices.
It’s one of the best times of year to pause and give thanks to God for all of His blessings. But creating an environment where thankfulness thrives every single day takes intentionality all year long. Here are some practical ways that homeschooling families can cultivate genuine thankfulness in our children each and every day.
Model Gratitude Yourself
Our children learn attitudes more from observing our example than listening to our instructions. Make it a consistent habit to pause and thank God for daily provisions like meals, sleep, and safety. Express gratitude frequently to your spouse, children, friends, and neighbors – it will be contagious.
Focus on gratitude in prayer. As a family, start and end each day giving thanks to God in prayer. Ask your children regularly what they want to thank God for, and include their praise items when saying grace at meals. Make prayer time a natural opportunity for your family’s hearts to turn toward gratitude practices.
Write thank-you notes and cards. Writing thank you notes is becoming a lost art, which is why taking time for written expressions of thanks can be so impactful. Make it a regular homeschooling assignment for your children to handwrite at least one thank-you card to someone they appreciate but may not tell often enough – perhaps a grandparent, your pastor, or a local service worker.
Highlight blessings in hardship. When your family faces challenges – from small disappointments to big trials – take time to shift your family’s focus to the blessings that remain in the situation. Maybe it’s appreciation for a lesson learned, the care shown by others, or growth in patience and faith. Intentionally counting gifts among the grief will help develop a perspective of gratitude to the Lord, even in the hard times.
Celebrate ordinary moments. Find joy and give thanks as a family for the little moments of everyday life that often get overlooked – laughing together at the dinner table, reading favorite books together before bedtime, or noticing the creative way a child solved a problem or helped a sibling.
Discover God’s gifts in nature. Depending on where you live, this may not be as easy to do in November… but when the weather permits, schedule regular time for outdoor learning with nature studies. Consider taking some of your schoolwork to a local park. Encourage your children to pay attention and notice of things in nature that give glimpses of God’s creativity, and inspire wonder and gratitude practices when we take time to recognize them.
Serve others together. Make serving others a hands-on part of your regular homeschooling routine. Through volunteering at a local soup kitchen, helping with projects and events at church, or helping an elderly neighbor mow their lawn, your children will grow in gratitude practices as they count the blessings they’ve overlooked and often take for granted, which some people do not have.
Share with others. Brainstorm ideas of little things that you can purchase or make to give away – like muffins for the neighbors, or flowers to give someone at church just because. Let your children be the ones who hand-deliver the gifts with an encouraging note or Scripture verse. The act of passing on what makes us smile will help breed awareness of just how much the Lord has blessed us with things that we may think are commonplace, but are huge encouragements to others who don’t enjoy those little things every day.
Enjoy family time together. Carve out small moments in the midst of your busy days to really soak in and appreciate your family bonds while doing simple things… lingering together at the table after a meal, going on evening walks, or playing favorite board games. Enjoy time just being together and thank the Lord for those special moments.
Intentionally nurturing thankfulness in our everyday lives takes time and consistency. But encouraging grateful hearts in your children is worth the effort. Cultivating gratitude is a gift that will bless them for the rest of their lives. Make gratitude practices not just a November lesson, but a daily part of your homeschool and family rhythm all year long.
All for our King’s glory,
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Christian Horstmann was blessed to be homeschooled from the very beginning in a Christian family. He is passionate about speaking and writing on family-centered topics such as building stronger relationships, practical home life, and the challenges and blessings of homeschooling. When he has a few spare minutes, he loves to spend time with family, enjoy God’s creation in beautiful countryside America, or read a great book. Follow him for homeschool inspiration and family encouragement on his website, ChristianFamilyReformation.com, or on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
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