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  • Ettie Zaklos

Gratitude an Integral Part of POTA

Gratitude, derived from the Latin, can mean grace or gratefulness, and it is strongly associated with greater happiness. Most people feel healthier, more hopeful and resilient when they count their blessings. So do most kids.

At Preschool of the Arts, gratitude is not simply a value we give lip service to, but an integral part of our program, deeply ingrained into our school culture. Taking a moment to appreciate a family member, a teacher, good food or our beautiful facilities gives members of our Preschool of the Arts community that endorphin boost of happiness. Research in the field of gratitude education supports the idea that gratitude improves the lives of school-age students, encouraging:

  • Higher grades

  • Higher goals

  • More satisfaction with relationships, life and school

  • Less materialism

  • More willingness to give back

As I reflect on the successful first quarter of our 2018-2019 academic year, I feel incredibly grateful and blessed to be in a position where I can provide early, defining childhood experiences that set the foundation for a lifetime of learning, success, and yes, a sense of satisfaction and gratitude about life. Our school year begins in August by celebrating the Jewish holiday season with our students, marking special days and learning the importance of celebration for the blessings we have.

For the past few years we have been excited to offer our students the one-of-a-kind POTA Children’s Marketplace, a cutting-edge educational learning center that allows the children to explore and practice a multitude of concepts and skills in a safe, real life setting. The fully conceptualized play market is a shared space on campus where the children enjoy play acting the shopping experience while building important school readiness skills. This year we started the year with a fresh Farmer’s Market and transitioned the market in October to a makeshift Post Office. Our carefully chosen real-life and play materials give students the perfect opportunity to learn the art of counting, sorting, matching and other pre-math skills. Other skills include developing speaking and listening skills, building attention span, problem solving with peers and expanding the children’s capacity for imagining and thinking symbolically.

October was a month filled with learning for both our students and our parents, as our well-rounded, award-winning program really kicked into high gear in the classrooms, while the evenings provided ample opportunity for educational and community building events for our parent body. The highlight of the month was our annual Parent Curriculum night which served to activate and strengthen the unique partnership between our talented school faculty and dedicated parent. The theme this year was “It Starts with the Heart” and we had a wonderful evening celebrating the special love for each child and the nurturing bond that parents and educators share. We look forward to sharing photos of the event in next month’s issue.

The learning continues through November, but this time it was underscored by the theme of the month: gratitude. While we teach gratitude every day at our preschool, the Thanksgiving holiday really brings the message to the fore. It is the perfect mid-year opportunity to stop and remind ourselves of how blessed we are and express our heartfelt gratitude to our community – our dedicated and loving staff, our caring and involved parents, and of course, the children who bring us such joy, teaching us more about love and thankfulness than we can ever teach them. We culminated our learning with a grand Thanksgiving performance reminding us all that when we stop and count our blessings, there is always reason to celebrate.

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