We can teach our children many wonderful lessons during this month of heart felt gratitude. In the early childhood classroom, children seem to quickly catch on to the joy of helping others and saying thank you. During the daily classroom process, children love to see others helping and showing gratitude to each other.
In my classroom of sparkling eyes and big smiles, I teach children to catch a “Thank Wink or Thank Sighting.” I am always surprised at what children observe and express. Meeting in a class circle, we end our day in expressing to each other what we are thankful for.
Students thank each other for helping open a drink, food, picking up books, helping a fellow student put on a coat, being a friend to another student on the playground, receiving a hug from a fellow student, holding the door open for a friend, etc.
These “Thank Winks” can be written or illustrated on boards or paper to remind children of the many “Thank Winks” that have been done during the day. When I read books to the preschool at Trinity Methodist Church, my heart is so full of gratitude from my little friends. As I take my books, purse and bottle of water into their classrooms, these little ones, ages two to four, help their “Grandma teacher” to not forget her purse and bottle of water; they help me stack my books and say, “Thank you Mrs. Beth.” When I am heading home, they call out from the playground, “Thank you! We Love you!” These children have truly given me so many “Thank Winks and Sightings” which fill my heart with pure joy. I am so very thankful for this inter-generational experience.
This week we have a chance to express a “Thank Wink” to our Veterans. Veterans Day is on Saturday, Nov. 11. Our local schools are celebrating this day as a holiday on Friday, Nov. 10. Teachers and parents have a wonderful opportunity to explain to children what Veterans have done for our country. Children rise to the occasion of Patriotism. They love raising their right hand, putting a hand over their hearts and learning to pledge allegiance to the flag. In teaching children to say the pledge, guiding them to feel their hearts beating puts a smile on their face. We can explain that the Pledge of Allegiance shows love for our country. It teaches our children the importance of freedom.
We can explain to our children that a veteran is a member of the armed services — the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marine Corps — which are serving and have served during times of war and peace. Many children have mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends and neighbors who have served or are serving in the military. Veterans Day is a time to honor them. During this week we need to stop and spend time with our veterans in expressing gratitude. How can we guide our children to honor and thank our veterans? It’s not too late to guide your families to do simple things to thank a veteran.

  1. Veterans Day offers wonderful inter-generational opportunities between young and old. We are blessed with many wonderful retirement villages, assisted living facilities and skilled care facilities in our community. Contact administration or activity directors in these facilities to see if it is okay for your family to drop off thank you pictures or notes to veterans. This is a true heartfelt gesture of kindness.
  2. A simple thank you, verbal or written, is very much appreciated by veterans and their families. Spend time in guiding your children to make homemade gifts — these can be delivered to veterans in your community or a local VA hospital and this means so much in expressing appreciation to the heart of a veteran. As community groups, churches and families can come together to work on making care packages for troops that may be overseas. This shows appreciation to veterans, especially during the holiday season.
  3. Explain to your child that veterans sacrifice their own safety and spend time away from their own families to keep America free. Recruit your family members to reach out to the family of a veteran who may be serving here at home or overseas. Holidays and special family celebrations can get lonely and stressful when a mother or father is serving in the armed forces. Simple gestures of kindness, such as offering to grocery shop, dropping off a meal, babysitting younger children, helping with yard work and including them in your family traditions means so much to families who have a mom, dad or family member serving.
  4. Praying for our veterans is the most powerful action that we can do for them and their families. Include your children in praying for our veterans. Let veterans and families know that you are praying for them. This brings encouragement to veterans and their families.
  5. Many communities host and provide Veteran’s Day ceremonies, parades and activities. Check local community calendars to see when.
    As we embark on this month of “Thank Winks,” let’s stop and thank God for the freedom we have in our country because of the many sacrifices our veterans have made.

Beth Pinyerd has taught in the classroom for many years. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education.