As families, we are entering into the month of gratitude and importance of caring for others.

Nov. 10 is “National Forget-Me-Not Day” — honoring our returning soldiers who have been injured. Friday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. Classroom Observer wants to thank all our veterans who have served our country faithfully. On this day, explain to your child that veterans and their families truly sacrifice their own safety, special events with their own families, holidays and more in order to keep America free. As families, most of us know veterans, some who may even live in our neighborhood. Having your family reach out to a veteran’s family is much needed.

During this busy season of holidays, it can get lonely, stressful and exhausting when a mother or father is serving in the Armed Forces. A simple outreach of offering could be to grocery shop, take a meal to a veteran’s family, babysit younger children, help them with home repairs, yard work or even invite a veteran’s family to join your family during this holiday season. These are wonderful ways to say thank you to veterans’ families as they support and serve us in protecting the freedoms of our country.

Include your children in praying for our veterans. Let veterans know that you are praying for them. Also, drawing pictures of gratitude and sharing cards with veterans truly brings them encouragement, hope, love and peace. Our communities will be hosting Veterans Day ceremonies on Nov. 11. In Opelika, Veterans Day activities will begin at 9 a.m. at the Opelika Public Library on 1100 Glenn St. The event is serving breakfast for veterans and their families. The Veterans Day Program will begin at 10 a.m. at the Opelika Public Library. In Auburn on Friday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial located at the northeast corner of Ross Street and Glenn Avenue. In attending special ceremonies such as these, children begin to sense and feel the importance of our veterans.

Children are never too young to care for and help others. How can we teach children to learn and care for others? Here are a few helpful tips that I would like to share with families.

As parents and families, we have to keep in mind that the first five years of a child’s life are for values and moral development. We as parents and teachers can truly focus on the first five years of children’s lives to teach morals and values.

Having experience in working with infants and toddlers, they do realize that they can make another child happy by being gentle and helpful. Praise the child when they act in gentleness toward others.

When a child is 2 or 3 years old, they can understand and empathize the feelings, frustrations and hurts of others. What a moment of joy it is to see a young child share a toy, blanket or hug with other children.

Children who are 3 and 4 years old definitely understand the importance of being kind and sharing with others.

Children 5 years and older develop values like honesty, respect and kindness, and are able to understand moral judgments. As you spend time and simply talk with older children, ask for their ideas on how they can reach out and help.

Holidays are right around the corner. This is a wonderful time to talk with your children about how they could help if certain situations arise. As families and friends come together, there are so many wonderful intergenerational opportunities of outreach between the young and old. True happiness happens when we look for ways to help others. Modeling appropriate ways to help others and to be thoughtful is the best teacher!

This Sunday, Nov. 13, is World Kindness Day. Creating an outreach project of kindness to help others is a life lesson. Kindness can be planted in your child’s hearts early. 

This coming Monday, Nov. 14, is one of my favorite days to celebrate “Loosen up, Lighten up Day.” The purpose of this day is to remind folks of the benefits of laughter.

As an early childhood teacher, I love to rock babies in the church nursery or preschool, see them smile and hear them laugh with a gleam in their eyes. They smile and cry in order to communicate with us, but laughter is another avenue of infant communication.

As parents and teachers, we love to hear the sound of children’s genuine giggles and laughs. Their sweet, innocent, infectious laughter is contagious. It is truly the best medicine for children and adults.

Laughter lifts our depressed moods and eases stress. A chuckle or hearty laugh seems to provide a promotion for good self-esteem in children. When children can find humor in their mistakes just by “laughing it off,” this triggers confidence to try again.

When a child is happy and expresses laughter, they experience security, which helps them sleep well. Reading bedtime stories can make them laugh, reduce anxious thoughts and stimulate good sleep.

A good laugh when teaching young children makes them more mentally alert to the lesson being taught, as well as encourages creativity.

At times, young children can experience separation anxiety when they go to school, preschool, Sunday School or similar places. Laughing with your child before separating from them will help in the transition from parent to teacher to caregiver. What a positive, happy way for you and your child to start the day.

I hope the ideas in Classroom Observer give you and your child sweet gratitude and attitude as we celebrate the month of November.

Beth Pinyerd

Classroom Observer