As parent-advocates for gifted children, we often become hyper-focused on dealing with the social, emotional and academic needs of our children. We can get overwhelmed by the amount of energy it takes every single year to ensure our children get what they need in school, not to mention how exhausting it can be when our children can’t find the socks without the seams. Again.
By this time in the school year, parents may be considering what their children will do over the coming summer, or wondering how their kids’ needs will be met next year, or simply breathing a sigh of relief that the school year is almost over.
Parents of gifted kids - before you spend any more time thinking about the summer or next year - please take a moment to reflect on this school year.
Try to think of at least one person who advocated for your child, whose help and caring made this current year better for you and your gifted child, who made a difference for you. It may be your child’s teacher, gifted coordinator, counselor, principal or even someone outside your school who helped you through this year’s challenges. Maybe it was a volunteer who regularly organizes events for gifted kids and their families, or perhaps some passionate advocates who routinely give up their evenings to respond by phone and email to questions parents have as they navigate the paths of giftedness.
Now, find a way to say “Thank you.”
Everyone likes to be thanked - some privately, some publicly. We all like to know that what we did was helpful, that we made a difference. We are then more inclined to be helpful in the future if we know our past efforts were appreciated.
It doesn’t need to be elaborate. In fact, a simple gesture is best. Receiving a hand-written note on a simple card can be powerful. According to a poll at edutopia.com,
…almost 30 percent of our community said thank-you notes were their favorite. Teachers pull out these notes for encouragement on tough days, and they save them long after the child has left the classroom. As one community member said, "Letters don't expire, go rotten, or break. They are my favorite gift!" Another added, "Letters cost the family no money, trigger no allergies, coordinate with all home-decor schemes, and do not cause weight gain!"
If you can’t come up with the words to write, hand-deliver a gift card to the local coffee shop and convey your sincerest thanks. Whatever way you express it, take time to acknowledge how their efforts helped you and your children. (And encourage your children to express their gratitude as well!)
Research indicates that gratitude benefits the one expressing thanks in more ways than I ever imagined. Benefits include enhanced self-esteem, empathy and relationships, as well as improved sleep, mental strength and physical and psychological health.
It sounds like if they could bottle and sell gratitude, they’d be selling it on infomercials 24/7. The trial version is free! All it takes is a pen and paper.
The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has designated May 4-8, 2015 as Teacher Appreciation Week is; the National Education Association (NEA) celebrates National Teacher Day on May 5, 2015.