Thankfulness All Year
Feeling thankful is recognizing the good things in one’s life, whether they are big things or little things. During clinical sessions, we can help students recognize the significance of everyday events, and the value of the people in their lives. As clinicians, we are role models for our students. We teach through our own values and behaviors. We may foster skills with social reciprocity, empathy, and resilience by helping students to identify positive relationships and caring gestures. Thankfulness can be expanded throughout the year:
Thank students at each session: Take a moment to thank your students for a specific behavior, e.g., “thank you for walking so quietly in the hallway”, “thank you for taking-turns during the game”, “thank you for thinking about your sounds”, etc.
Guide students to thank each other: Help students recognize the moment that a peer has done something kind, e.g., “Sam let you pick the game today. That was really nice of him. Let’s make sure we thank him.”
Thank the prior clinician: Whenever you begin at a new site, or are replacing another clinician, or you have students who are new to your caseload from another location, have students write ‘thank-you’ cards to the previous clinician. Model ideas for the students, e.g., “thank you for helping me with my (insert speech sound, skills, or activities)”. This may ease closure and transition, along with validating the importance of the therapeutic relationship.
'Thank-you' cards: Have students create ‘thank-you’ cards at periodic intervals, such as holidays, school breaks, or transition times. Have students think about which one person they want to thank and the reason why they want to thank that person. Add perspective-taking skills by asking the student to think about what kind of picture the person receiving the card would like to see. Customizing a card for a specific recipient requires you to reflect on another person’s interests. You can use art supplies, stickers, clipart, etc.
Thank colleagues: At the end of the school year, and/or at holiday times, have students sign their name to cards to key staff in the school building, e.g., school secretary, principal, custodian, etc.
Email notes: Show that you appreciate your team by thanking staff for their contributions and support after important meetings, e.g., “Thank you for coming to the meeting and sharing how well (student name) is participating in group activities in science. This is great news!”
Gratitude wall: Designate a wall, board, or location in the clinic room for students to share what they are grateful for. Use post-its to have students write what makes them feel grateful. Guide students in recognizing positive events in their lives and noticing how people help each other to be successful.
Thanking someone shows that you appreciate their actions and efforts. Thankfulness honors and increases the strength of the positive relationships in our lives.