Helping Parents Raise Grateful Kids
In this interview, Aurora Tamez, who is the IB Diploma Coordinator for a school in Mexico, talks to Eleni Vardaki about how schools can support parents in raising grateful kids by providing practical examples from her own experience:
1) How you can create school traditions that foster gratitude in students?
2) How to teach high school students to be pro-active and self-motivated youths who care about being of service in their community?
3) Practical ideas for how your school could organizing a meaningful Thank You Parents event.
STUDENTS ORGANIZE A “THANK YOU PARENTS” EVENT
ELENI VARDAKI: How did this Thank You Parents event come about?
AURORA TAMEZ: It’s been a tradition in our school for more than 10 years. The intention of this event is that the students say ‘Thanks’ to their parents for the support that they have given them during their entire life
This event takes place at the end of the Senior year, just after the exams. And it’s not just for the IB students; it’s for the regular students, too.
The students are divided into teams, and all together, they organized everything, including the activities, the music, food and everything to do with the event, so that it will be great.
And there are different activities such as, for example, recording a group video, where each student says thanks for their parents for something specific. For example, “Thank you, Mom, for you always being there when I was sick”. Each student says something specific to their parents.
Also, all the students write – it’s another activity – some people write a letter. And just basically write a “Thank You For” letter, and in this event, they give this out to their parents and they read it together.
It’s an activity that the parents enjoy it.
We have different activities, like for example, Guess Who? Every student writes about a personal or family experience, and each parent needs to guess which children belongs to that experience. It’s a different activity, but the intention is to say “Thanks” to their parents, and the parents enjoy it a lot.
STUDENTS ORGANIZE A “THANK YOU TEACHERS EVENT”
ELENI VARDAKI: That’s so beautiful! I’ve never heard of any school doing anything like that (and especially not in such a deep and meaningful way). Like, you know, you’ll sometimes have, for example, catering coming in to do the food. But this is really giving ownership to the Seniors to organize it up from start to finish. It’s a real “Thank You” event. I think that’s beautiful. So what’s the connection with the “Thank You Teachers” event?
AURORA TAMEZ: Okay well, this event is, like I said, a tradition. And this year, two girls that were IB students came to my office after the parents event. And they said to me that they wanted to say thanks to their teachers, the same way that they say thanks to their parents.
And it was a surprise for me, because it was something new for us, too. Well these girls were so happy, and they say, “We really – all the groups – we really want to say thanks.”
We have two IB Diploma groups, and they asked me for help to make all the teachers things that we have a meeting or something. It was a surprise for them. So, my contribution was to write an email and say, “Okay, we need to evaluate some aspects for the final evaluations with the IB exams”. And while other teachers came to the class or the room thinking that they needed to evaluate something.
But the two groups for IB were, I think, 15 students, they organized everything in just a room aside from us. So they organized everything, like, again: food, and music.
And the most important thing was they organized the speeches, to say to every teacher something specific, to say ‘Thank you’. So every kid says thanks to one teacher.
And it was amazing, because these kids said really really amazing things about their teachers, and obviously the teacher was amazed at the things that the kid said. So it was an amazing event that is something that we remember we can remember for a lifetime.
ELENI VARDAKI: Wow, I love it! And I can see how, the ripple effect that this tradition of saying thank you to parents, you know, kind of it’s spilled over to giving the students’ ideas to, you know, these two IB girl’s idea to come up with this Thank You Teachers event. It’s like this ripple effect of kindness and caring in your school. That’s beautiful.
AURORA TAMEZ: Yes, and these kids gave to the teachers, like, a “diploma”, saying that, “Okay, you help me to have my diploma”, so they elaborate on these diplomas and make special diplomas for the teachers. It was great.
STUDENTS ORGANIZE A “THANK YOU SUPPORT STAFF” EVENT
ELENI VARDAKI: Aurora, are there any other examples that you feel your school are doing that are helping explaining this culture of kindness?
AURORA TAMEZ: For us, CAS in the IB Program is very important. CAS is Creativity, Activity and Service. But for us, service is very important.
So we have a tradition to do group projects in which students start to think about someone else.
We have a lot of different projects, but one of the most important projects is to do a Special Christmas Party for the people who are helping, like the cleaners, gardeners, and all of these people that help that every day the high school goes in a good way.
So these kids created a Christmas Party to say “thanks” for all of their work of their job to do with their school. So they make a Christmas Party.
The kids prepared everything, like a little performance, a Christmas performance. The food they serve to all of these people. So it’s great, because it’s another kind of activity to enjoy with people who work in your school, and who’re not your teachers.
It’s all of those people who are in the school but you never know who they are.
So they know about their names, and their stories of these people, so they enjoy the activities. And it’s great for that.
ELENI VARDAKI: I love it, because I think there’s a danger, sometimes of thinking of, you know, developing good citizenship skills as being about simply looking outside of the school community, when it’s so important to be more inclusive within the school community. And that’s beautiful how these students did that. So before we wrap up, is there anything else that you’d like to add, Aurora?
AURORA TAMEZ: We know that the IB mission is to make the world a better place to live. And I think this starts in the home, and parents and teachers we can help to cultivate in kids this attitude and kindness and gratitude to the others.
ELENI VARDAKI: Thank you very much Aurora, wonderful examples. So inspiring!
Eleni Vardaki graduated from the Anglo-American School of Moscow with the IB Diploma, and is also an experience IBDP teacher. She’s taught over 3000 secondary school students and over 300 IB Diploma students in the last 10 years. She’s on a mission to help bridge the gap between mainstream education systems and 21st century well-being skills. For youth mentoring, school bookings and free well-being training resources, go to: www.elenivardaki.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.