Here are some additional thoughts on gratitude from Kath Courter, Preschool Head.
Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude
Thanksgiving reminds me to take stock of the things in my life for which I am most grateful. Of course I am thankful for my family and friends and that I am in good health; I also am thankful that my dishwasher works, that my husband makes me a cup of coffee each morning as I’m getting ready for work, and that I landed in Boulder with a job that I LOVE to come to each and every day.
Growing up, my mother was relentless in her drive to instill in me a sense of appreciation. Sometimes it was conveyed through threats that I should stop complaining and eat my dinner because “there are people in the world who are starving!” But mostly it was through our household policy that you always say thank you – with my mother emphasizing “say it like you mean it!” As a part of my mother’s rules for instilling appreciation, when I received a gift I could not use it, eat it, spend it, play with it, or wear it until I had written a thank you note. I hated this as a child… and now – looking back – I’m thankful. My mother instilled in me an attitude of gratitude that I am now trying to pass on to my son.
Teaching gratitude and appreciation is not as easy as I thought it would be… and I find myself using some of the same strategies that I grew up with: Think about people who have to walk three miles to get fresh water!” I struggle with helping him to learn how to appreciate what he has without focusing on what he wishes he had. In a search for inspiration, I came across an article by Andrea Reiser in the Huffington Post that focuses on tips for instilling true gratitude in kids. Below are some of my take-a-ways from her tips.
Be a grateful parent. This tip makes me think about how important it is to tell the people in our lives how much we appreciate them. I do this regularly with my colleagues and friends. However, I sometimes forget to do this with my son. I have made it a goal to tell him something every week that focuses on why I am grateful for having him in my life. I try to phrase the things to say in a way that will help him to build his sense of internal confidence and competence. For example, “I am so thankful that you took the time to pick up around our neighborhood (his new past-time is to ride around our cul-de-sac on his bike, trash bags hanging off of his handle bars, picking up little scraps of stuff). It must make you feel good inside to be such a good neighbor. I know that other people appreciate you too.”
Resist the urge to shower your child with too much "stuff." My son does not ask for much and we really do strive to limit how much we give him. However, I admit that this is difficult for me because at my core, I like to please. I often feel a sense of guilt if I say no just because I want to hold the line and I feel guilty if I cave and give into his requests. I find that thinking about his requests in terms of wants verses needs helps me to better balance my stance in this area.
Keep thank-you notes on hand and say thank you sincerely and often. The thank you rules that I hated as a child are now a staple in my house. I keep thank you notes on hand and I insist that he write a handwritten note of thanks whenever he receives a gift. I also have him occasionally write notes of thanks “just because.” I’ve been trying to do this too and it feels great to hear back from folks on the receiving end about how receiving an unexpected note made their day. In addition, I try to model gratitude. My hope is that if he sees me expressing gratitude that he will do the same.
Find the silver lining. This is a strategy that I use at work all the time and now I am trying to incorporate it into my parenting. I have to admit that this is concept is way easier to talk about with an adult than it is with a seven year old… That said, I realize that it is important for me to teach my son to be resilient and focus on the positives. When I take the time to find the silver lining, I can normally find a positive spin for even the most difficult situation.
Taking time to show appreciation grants perspective and age adds wisdom. Each year I become more and more thankful for the life I live, the people who surround me, and the experiences and people that have helped to shape my life. I encourage you to use this Thanksgiving to say thank you to those who have influenced you. An attitude of gratitude feels good.
Educators nation-wide are struggling to work with next week’s election. Normally a vibrant opportunity to teach concepts like the importance of civic engagement, the complexity of electoral politics, or the history of the United States’ two party system, this election is terrifying even the most experienced educators.
This Friday we open the doors of our school to our grandfriends and I hope it serves as a reminder to us all to open our hearts and minds to them as well. It is said that a wise man allows others to speak into their life.
The importance of enrolling young children in a high quality preschool is a no-brainer for many parents. However, choosing the perfect program often feels like a pivotal decision that will impact a family and child for years to come.
Last Friday’s Commencement ceremony was indeed the usual bittersweet occasion we see each year. Whether it was the students who have been together for 11 years or those who have forged lasting friendship over the course of middle school, the tears and smiles they shared represented the unity of the experience that is BCD.
In the words of graduation speaker, Tommy Miller, “When those of us who have been here since pre-school started at BCD, we were literally toddlers. A few of the truly advanced students could tie their own shoes, but the rest of us were pretty much incapable of anything. To us, the middle schoolers were like adults. It’s amazing to think how much that perspective has changed and how much we have grown here. As each of us heads off to high school next year, we’re all very much still works-in-progress, but it is impressive to think how much BCD has helped to prepare us academically, bond us as friends, and shape our character in preparation for that next step.”
The “next step” for the class of 2016 is journeys in various different directions, but the BCD experience they carry into those futures will make them all Bulldogs for life.
BCD students, Ian Curd, 7th grade and Skyler Kranjcec, 7th grade, won for their projects at this year’s state level Science Fair competition. Ian’s project, entitled “SwimBot: A Robot for Testing Swimming Speed and Energy,” was awarded third place in the Junior Division Engineering category and Skyler’s project, entitled “Let’s Solve Levitation with a Sine Wave Situation,” was awarded third place in the Junior Division Physics category. Skyler also received the American Vacuum Society (Rocky Mountain Chapter) Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Engineering, the Science Toy Magic Award for Physics Classroom Demonstration and the Women in Physics (Colorado State University Chapter) Award for Promising Young Women in Science.
Boulder Country Day School 8th grade artist, Xan, will dedicated her mural (12’x9’) at the Boulder Homeless Shelter on Saturday, May 7th.
An extremely talented student, Xan chose to design a multi-panel mural for the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless for her 8th grade Capstone project. This truly exceptional piece (photo attached) took 170 hours and three months to design and was done all with paints she obtained from hazardous waste recycling. She mixed all the colors herself. The mural is strategically installed at the receiving line of the cafeteria as a permanent feature and is already receiving substantial praise from the facility leadership and tenants.
Ardith Sehulster, Shelter Board member and former President, shared the enthusiasm for the project expressed by the shelter’s volunteer cooks, “They love the mural, are so impressed with Xan's talent, and cannot imagine that wall pre-mural.” Shelter Executive Director, Greg Harms, added, “Xan caught the vision for this space in the Shelter – just the right amount of color, cheer and meaning. We trusted her and she came through with a truly thoughtful piece. Residents, staff, volunteers and visitors to the Shelter will delight in this for a very long time.” Explanation of mural: from left to right the mural moves from an upside down house with shattered windows representing homelessness and disruption across a bridge that represents path to a better future leading to an intact house and a full sun.
As part of BCD’s Middle School curriculum, 8th grade students complete a Capstone Project. Capstone Projects are a yearlong experience that encourages students to dive deeply into a subject of personal passion. This experience develops in-depth learning in the presence of an experienced mentor. 8th grade Capstone projects are a culmination of students' BCD experience bringing together the key elements of passion, innovation, and service. Art has always been a passion for Xan and the idea of using it to help others was exciting. “I wanted to contribute and give back to our community, and the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless was one of the places where art could make the most difference,” Xan shares. “I think that the most fulfilling part of this project was the impact that it made on the lives of the staff, volunteers, and clients of the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and being able to have a positive effect through creativity and art on these people.”
As part of BCD’s Middle School curriculum, 8th grade students complete a Capstone Project. Capstone Projects are a yearlong experience that encourages students to dive deeply into a subject of personal passion. This experience develops in-depth learning in the presence of an experienced mentor. 8th grade Capstone projects are a culmination of students' BCD experience bringing together the key elements of passion, innovation, and service. It is always exciting to see the range of interests and directions the students take. Student projects this year range from building ovens in Nicaragua, to designing head bands for a cure, to piloting a plane, to stage fighting. On April 22nd, our 8th grade students finished the hard work they have put into their Capstone projects as they presented their work to their families and mentors. Well done, Bulldogs.
To see a complete list of this year's projects, click here.
BCD fifth grade students, with the help of the residents of Balfour Senior Living, filled 40 Easy Meal Care Bags for There with Care. The bags will go to families of critically ill children experiencing extended hospital stays so families are able to remain bedside. After their work, the students and the seniors relaxed and had some time to get to know each other. One resident even coaxed some of the students into singing for her. She loved it!