Gratitude and Appreciation

Right now, many parents are busy beyond what we could have imagined before school closures. Or maybe we have too much downtime. Whatever our situation, one thing that we all share is concern and anxiety about the well-being of loved ones and about the uncertainty of the future.  In the midst of this enormous shift, it is easy to lose sight of what we have to be grateful for.

Gratitude is about more than saying “thank you.” Gratitude significantly boosts our sense of wellbeing – studies prove that it doesn’t just make us feel better, it actually lowers overall stress, and boosts our sense of self-worth. In families, making a group practice of gratitude spreads those positive impacts to our whole family.


Family meetings are a great way to practice appreciation and gratitude. Learn more about Family Meetings.

Gratitude is Not a Forced Thank You, Sarina Behar Natkin

Want to Raise Happy Kids? Teach Gratitude, Sproutable

How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

How to Talk with Kids about Gratitude, video from Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

Practicing Gratitude (and 10 things I’m grateful for)video from Rocket Kids

Brene Brown on joy and gratitude, video from UMNCSH 

The Gift of An Ordinary Day, book by Katrina Kenison

The Thankful Book, book by Todd Parr


We hope will encourage you to embrace a family gratitude practice.  A good place to start with our kids is to think about how to show appreciation to a teacher!

Send a Video Message

Make a video of your child expressing what they love and miss about their teacher or classroom to upload and send to their teacher. Use these prompts if you’re having trouble getting started:

  • Thank you, (Teacher’s Name), for ____________________________________________ .
  • (Teacher’s Name) made a big difference in my life by _______________________________________ .
  • Thanks to (Teacher’s Name), I’m now able to __________________________________________ .

Send a Letter or Drawing

Send a handmade letter or a drawing created by your child. Words of gratitude about what they miss or love about their teacher or classroom are powerful. A note of appreciation from you — about the ways your child learned or grew in their classroom are powerful.  If you know your teacher’s address, send it by snail mail! If you don’t know, take a photo of the note or the drawing and send it as an email attachment or a text.

Start a Gratitude Journal

You can have one for the family or one for each member of your family. Each day think of 3 things you are grateful for. Write or draw those ideas in the journal.  Find a regular time each week to talk about what’s in the journal and what we’re grateful for.

Make a Gratitude Tree

Grab a few fallen twigs and arrange them in a jar. Use sand or rocks to help stabilize them. Have your children cut out some leaf-shaped pieces of paper, punch a hole in one end, and attach a small loop of string. Keep the leaves in a jar beside the tree along with a pen or crayon. Have your children write something they are grateful for on a leaf and hang it on a twig branch. You can write on multiple leaves at once, or slowly build your tree, adding one gratitude leaf each day.  It is beautiful to watch the tree “bloom” as your thoughts of gratitude grow!