Pupils learn to reflect and express gratitude

Concord Primary School pupils reading notes from their gratitude jars, which are part of the Gratitude Project which the school introduced last year.
Concord Primary School pupils reading notes from their gratitude jars, which are part of the Gratitude Project which the school introduced last year.PHOTO: COURTESY OF CONCORD PRIMARY SCHOOL

In May this year, the cleaners and security guards of Concord Primary School were invited on stage and presented with gifts and thank-you notes from the pupils.

It was the highlight of an initiative that the school introduced last year.

In the Gratitude Project, pupils reflect on the experiences they are grateful for and then express themselves in various ways, such as by having discussions in class, writing in journals, posting thank-you notes on classroom boards - and acknowledging school employees, who are seldom given a second thought.

Primary 4 pupil Ahmad Sultanul Ariffin, 10, said: "Each class has a gratitude jar, which we fill with sticky notes. We aim to fill up the jar by the end of the year. We write down things we are grateful for, even simple stuff such as having proper food."

Ms Jeannett Lay, 33, the teacher in charge of the project, said: "Being appreciative has always been a part of our school culture. We try to ride on events such as National Day, Labour Day and Total Defence Day to make it more pervasive in the lives of the children."

On National Day, for instance, the pupils reflected on what they could be grateful for in Singapore.

GRATEFUL FOR SIMPLE THINGS

We write down things we are grateful for, even simple stuff such as having proper food.

AHMAD SULTANUL ARIFFIN, a Primary 4 pupil at Concord Primary School, on the messages he and his schoolmates write on sticky notes to fill the gratitude jars in their classrooms.

Ms Lay said gratitude is a mindset that has to be imparted in subtle ways and not "taught" in the usual sense.

The pupils are not the only ones who are learning to be grateful. During the annual parent-teacher conference, the parents could write thank-you messages.

The school also collaborates with Keat Hong Community Club in a Give And Take Project, in which pupils are asked to take items from home and donate them to the community club.

The community club eventually holds a "market" with the donated items, which pupils are able to buy or take for free. In doing so, they can see the donated items in a new light - as gifts, rather than unwanted goods.

Clara Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2017, with the headline 'Pupils learn to reflect and express gratitude'. Print Edition | Subscribe