This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Homeschooling and Thanksgiving. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
Whether you are big on favorites or not, Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many homeschoolers.There is just something about the food that is amazing, of course, but more than that, there is something about a day dedicated to expressing how thankful you are.
But why is there just one day? Don’t we want every day to be dedicated to giving thanks, to being grateful, to recognizing and expressing gratitude? Let’s jump into all the giving thanks ideas and different examples of what we can do to give thanks not only on Thanksgiving but for homeschooling and Thanksgiving every single day!
For many, life became lonely during COVID when so many people were first experiencing the added stressors of the pandemic. And being at home, quarantined, while also afraid and uncertain about so many other things, some people leaned into gratitude journaling as a mental wellness practice.
There’s something to be said about seeing how powerful something that small can actually be. This is one area where homeschooling and Thanksgiving really play well together!
According to the research at Greater Good Science of the University of California, when we write things down that we are thankful for, it literally changes our brain structure, similar to a PET scan. It revealed that if we journal for two weeks straight in our gratitude journal, the calm down centers in our brain will grow in size.
This means, it lessens the stress and hyperactivity in your brain just from journaling! And it also means that when God created us to be thankful- He wired us to become healthier when we do. God did some amazing stuff when he designed us, didn’t He?
(Check out Vicki’s coaching website for freebie downloadable gratitude journaling pages.)
Identify Different Things To Be Thankful For
Another practice you can put into place for homeschooling and Thanksgiving is to have your kids share one or two good things about something each day or each week.
The kicker? Each time has to be something completely different every time as much as possible. They are not allowed to repeat things they are thankful for. That is because, when you can try to make your “thing” that you are thankful for different each time, you realize just how much there is to really be thankful for.
Write Down What You Are Thankful For
You can take this a step further in giving thanks ideas by having your kids write down what they are thankful for each time you do this. Even if you or your kids are not big into journaling, that’s fine – this has nothing to do with journaling. You do not have to be a writer or like to write to practice this.
You are simply just writing down what you are thankful for and seeing it tangibly in front of your eyes. Something about writing down what you are thankful for seems to give it life and reveals itself to you more purposefully.
If you think about something that you are thankful for, that is good. But until you write it down, you do not fully take note of it. So, it has nothing to do with being a writer, but has more to do with making that stick in your brain.
Be Thankful Even In A Mess
There is always something to be thankful for right in the midst of all of the mess. We can always find some small good that God has given us- this helps strengthen us through the storm. For instance, think about the trees and the sun, for example, outside. Even if the trees give you sniffles, you can notice their beauty.
When we notice that God has created nice things out there, we remember that He puts things out there for us to richly enjoy (whether or not life is going well at that moment). Your day may be a rotten one, for instance, but the clouds are beautiful and the sun is shining.
No matter what you may have going on in your life, you will see God’s fingerprints in the most surprising places, right in the midst of any difficult time. Give thanks for the presence of God in the midst of all of that. Because there is always something to be thankful for.
Giving thanks does not make the bad stuff non-existent. However, giving thanks for the good stuff makes it so much easier to handle and keep going.
Another thing that is really helpful is reframing. The idea is to reframe, or re-train, your mindset. You do this by correcting yourself in your thoughts. You put into practice “I get to” instead of “I have to” which helps offers thanks to that thing in thinking about.
And it does not mean you are lying to yourself. It means you are simply putting your words and your thoughts in a different context.
For example, you might want to start taking better care of your body but you might not be one to like exercise. Instead of putting pressure on yourself by thinking you need to work out today or wondering if you worked out enough this week, flip it around and tell yourself the benefits you will get from working out.
You could put a sticky note on the front of your refrigerator or computer that says something along the lines of “more energy” and “more strength.” Remind yourself what you want instead of what you have to do.
This simple but powerful reframing practice will make you grateful for the chance to that thing (i.e., work out). Plus, it is also one of those things that you get to model for your kids. As they watch and listen to your positive mind shifts and thankfulness, they will begin to adopt this into their own lives.
Do One Small Thing Every Day That You Do Not Want To Do
When you do something small each day that you do not want to do, not only does it add up but it also brings you so much satisfaction in knowing that you got it done. It’s similar to eating an elephant one bite at a time.
If it is a large project and you need to get it done but you do not really want to do, just tackle it one task at a time. Do not worry about the other tasks, just do the one thing you do not want to do. It adds up.
This is a mighty yet powerful way to give thanks in the midsts of those begrudging tasks, those in which you did not walk away from but stayed and conquered them one little bit at a time. You’ll also have the satisfaction in knowing it’s done and can check it off your list.
This makes you much more grateful for the things you don’t enjoy doing, and you realize how satisfying it is to get done.
We can extend this to our kids as well. When we tell our kids to do their work, chores, or what have you, we can tell them how good they are going to feel when they get done.This gives them something to look forward to as well as gives them the opportunity to see gratitude and be thankful for their efforts.
Homeschooling and Thanksgiving
We hope that as you come into your Thanksgiving, you can mark the day and at the same time choose to mark every day, with some Thanksgiving.
It’s beautiful to have those special days. God set aside these special moments and mile markers to mark that progress in your life and to stop and not do your normal stuff. And instead, celebrate life, be thankful, and be with loved ones.
So, although all these things are wonderful to have as reminders and mile markers, we can also choose to take a piece of that thankfulness with us to plunk down at the beginning of every single day. We can say:
Today is going to be a day of Thanksgiving.
Maybe you’re not going to do the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing or the cranberries every day, but every day can be a day of Thanksgiving. And when you do, see what it does for your brain!
BTW- If you would like to have a “why we have these traditions” lesson with your teens, check out this post from philosopher, Dr. Micah Tillman.
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