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At a gathering over the holidays, I was amazed at how little history my Generation Z family members knew. One cousin, a college freshman, was clueless about the Cold War; another, a high school senior, was fuzzy about the Civil Rights movement. At age 43, I’m no old fogey complaining about “the younger generation,” but I do wonder what my own kids are learning in school. Doesn’t the Common Core teach history?

Don’t blame the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). They were only adopted in most states within the last couple of years, so the curriculum you’re referring to would not have had been based on the CCSS.

In 2009, when the National Governors Association (NGA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and a group of national business leaders decided to create a set of skills and knowledge that students graduating high school should have in order to be college- and career-ready, they put their focus solely on standards for mathematics and English language arts (ELA).

Selected readings in the ELA standards support history. For example, most high school students read Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech to the Second Virginia Convention; George Washington’s Farewell Address; Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” State of the Union Address; and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From Birmingham Jail.

While there are no national standards for history, most states have their own. Many high schools use Advanced Placement curricula as a starting point for what should be covered in U.S. history, U.S. government and world history.

Common Core standards for science, the arts and world languages are being crafted by organizations independent of CCSSO and NGA. (To read the standards in math and ELA, go to commoncore.org.)

But you do raise a good question: What should all Americans know? Or, as Lisa Hansel of the Core Knowledge Blog puts it, “What should all of our children have the opportunity to learn?”

In 1987, University of Virginia professor E.D. Hirsch launched a national debate with his best-seller, “Cultural Literacy” (Vintage), with its 5,000 facts and cultural references. Parents and educators embraced his subsequent series, spelling out what children should learn at each grade level.

Hirsch’s critics argued that one professor shouldn’t decide what all kids should learn to have a common vocabulary and shared frame of reference in an increasingly diverse country.

To that end, Eric Liu has launched “What Every American Should Know,” a project of the educational nonprofit Aspen Institute’s Citizenship and American Identity Program.

“Hirsch’s list was attacked, celebrated and much discussed,” Liu writes on the project’s website. “Today, amidst giant demographic and social shifts, the United States needs such common knowledge more than ever. But a 21st-century sense of cultural literacy has to be radically more diverse and inclusive. And it needs to come not from one person, but from all of us.”

Inspired by Hirsch’s work, Liu turned to crowdsourcing for the project, giving all Americans an opportunity to help cultivate, according to Hansel, “a shared body of knowledge that honors our diversity while forming a common bond.”

What do you think Americans should know to be civically and culturally literate? Enter your top 10 at whateveryamericanshouldknow.org.

Last year, all our parent group did was gripe about tests, but nobody brings it up now. Our PTA president says that new laws have stopped mandatory testing. Aren’t some tests necessary? How else will we know how our kids are doing?

While several trends have shifted the testing picture, your PTA president gets an “incomplete” on the topic. Annual tests are still required.

Here’s what’s changed. One: States and districts, responding to concerns from teachers and parents about over-testing, cut back on redundant exams. (One Florida district had given students 183 tests between kindergarten and seventh grade; only 17 were federally required.) Cutting back decreased the ongoing test prep that eats into instructional time.

Two: Some “opt-out” movements were fueled in part by efforts to tie teacher evaluations to test scores. Now that most states have uncoupled test scores and teacher accountability, there’s less resistance to testing.

Three: Parents realize that the maxim “what gets tested, gets taught” shortchanges kids. Subjects such as social studies and the arts — and hard-to-test social-emotional skills such as resilience, responsibility and self-regulation — get less instructional time. Parents and teachers want to change that.

Four: There are big changes at the federal level. On Dec. 10, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing No Child Left Behind. ESSA passed with strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. It continues to mandate annual math and reading testing requirements for grades 3 though 8, and requires that schools annually report test scores and keep track of demographics including race, economic status and disabilities.

But states can now set their own goals and timelines on accountabliliy, subject to approval by the federal Deparment of Education. For example, states can decide how to weigh tests, how to evaluate teachers and how to sanction schools where students don’t graduate on time or whose students score in the lowest 5 percent.

“This bipartisan agreement came about because policymakers were wise enough not to throw the testing ‘baby’ out with the bathwater,” says Bill Jackson, CEO and founder of GreatSchools.org. “Parents don’t want their kids to undergo unnecessary tests or endless hours of prep, but they do want to know how their children are doing and how well their schools are performing.”

Nationally normed annual tests can provide that information, says Jackson; however, “but the results aren’t easy for parents to interpret.”

GreatSchools hopes to change that. Working with major test providers, the organization just launched the GreatKids State Test Guide for Parents: a free online tool that’s organized by grade and subject.

“This tool will help parents understand the scores and use them to support their kids’ learning,” says Jackson. “The guide fills a critical need: specific, actionable information for parents, customized to the grade level of their children and described relative to the sections of the tests.”

To learn more, and to use the guide, visit StateTestGuide.org.

Our elementary school does “blended learning.” What defines blended learning, and is there a good resource on it? What devices are best? If we understand it correctly, we think we’d like to use it at home to move our boys beyond video games.

Blended learning is an instructional strategy that combines face-to-face teaching with online engagement, allowing students more control over the time, pace and place of their learning. Surveys suggest that more than 75 percent of the nation’s school districts are implementing some type of blended learning.

“It’s a way of re-centering learning around individual student needs,” says Heather Staker, the founder of online resource Ready to Blend, and co-author of “Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools” (Jossey-Bass, 2014).

The Internet offers parents opportunities to supplement the classroom curriculum and “provide their children with learning resources that before were out of reach,” notes Staker. “Say a family wants to learn a foreign language, understand computer coding or go inside the Smithsonian. … These experiences are now affordable and accessible with a basic device and Wi-Fi.”

But to navigate this world requires effort. “No wise parent would send a child on a field trip without knowing if it were safe and worthwhile,” explains Staker. “Similarly, every site on the Internet is also a destination — albeit a virtual one, and this time, children usually travel alone. Parents are well-advised to be as concerned for the safety and worthiness of destinations in the virtual realm as for those in the physical.”

To find appropriate sites, Staker refers parents to CommonSenseMedia.org, “a great resource to help families identify worthwhile content. It reviews education apps, as well as movies, videogames and other media.”

To help parents find safe sites and give kids fun academic challenges, Staker and her husband created an online blended-learning program called Brain Chase (brainchase.com).

“The program offers multiweek academic challenges that motivate second- through eighth-graders to learn by disguising the hard work as an adventure quest. Participants search for an actual buried treasure,” says Staker.

Each day, participants are challenged to read and write and solve puzzles and problems provided by such online resources as Google Books, myON, Rosetta Stone and Khan Academy. Credentialed elementary teachers grade the writing assignments. During the program, kids receive “adventure tools” such as decoders in cool packaging in the mail. (The spring 2016 Brain Chase adventure starts Monday, Feb. 8. Go to brainchase.com for details.)

Which devices work best for blended-learning activities? Staker likes Chromebooks because “they are affordable (less than $300), and our family doesn’t mind that the software resides in the cloud, not on our local hard drives. Other families see benefits in tablets because of their mobility.

“Be aware, however, that although tablets are great for consuming content, they are ill equipped for producing it. Students have trouble composing essays on tablets, for example, and external keyboards tend to break easily in backpacks.”

We try to manage the “screen” lives of our tweens. Yet every time we turn around, there’s a new app to worry about or another social media horror story to scare parents. Help!

You’re in good company. Many parents are overwhelmed, says Caroline Knorr, the parenting editor of Common Sense Media, which has shown that 8- to 12-year-olds are averaging nearly six hours a day on entertainment media, while 13- to 18-year-olds average a whopping nine hours. With numbers like those, it’s understandable that parents want strategies to keep kids’ online experiences safe, productive and fun.

Here’s the good news: Research shows that tweens and teens whose parents are actively involved in their kids’ media lives consume less media, make better choices and understand more of what they’re interacting with.

“So, even if your kids know way more about media and technology than you do, you can still help them navigate the digital world safely, responsibly and productively,” says Knorr.

She suggests these media-savvy New Year’s resolutions:

Have the talk — the one about being safe, smart and responsible online. “You don’t have to be an Instagram expert to give your kids a solid understanding of how you expect them to behave,” Knorr explains.

Keep social media in perspective. Just because your teen is on Snapchat every minute doesn’t mean she’s really having fun. According to Common Sense Media, 45 percent of teens use social media every day, but only 36 percent say they enjoy it “a lot.” Teens whose parents talk to them about their social media lives report being happier.

“As with anything, social media has good, bad and neutral aspects, but kids need parents to help them sort out which is which,” says Knorr.

Create a media plan. It’s easy for media and technology to overstay their welcome. Make a plan to stay in control. It might include:

– Screen-free zones. Certain areas (bedrooms, for example) and times (such as dinner) are off-limits to phones, tablets, TVs and other devices, so they’re reserved for rest and family time.

– Less multitasking during homework. Little distractions can add up to big misses in school.

– Enforcing limits. “Everyone needs to disengage from their devices, adults included,” says Knorr. “But without someone to draw the line, tweens and teens may text late into the night or play video games till they look like zombies. Establish appropriate boundaries and make sure you enforce them.”

– Encourage informal learning. Studying guitar from YouTube videos, reading “Star Wars” wikis and watching TED Talks are all valuable screen activities that you can encourage and share as a family.

– Promote healthy skepticism. Help kids think critically about the media they consume. Ads and content are increasingly intertwined, and studies have shown that children have a hard time distinguishing between the two. Online stories are routinely unmasked as hoaxes, and companies’ privacy policies are filled with legalese. You should ask yourself who made the content you’re watching and who the audience is. Think about the content’s messages. (For more resources, go to commonsensemedia.com.)

– Celebrate kids using social media for good. Across the world, tweens and teens who are tired of online negativity pop up with positive messages to share. Celebrate those examples and talk to your kids about the power of social media for productive social change.

I’d like to find some educational, yet enjoyable, non-techie gifts for kids on my list, as I’m sure their parents will get them “Star Wars” and video game-type stuff. The kids range in age from 1 to 12. Are books still cool? Do you have any suggestions?

Books are still cool, and essential. In the age of tablets, kids still love to own “real” books. And they benefit academically by growing up in what educators call a “print rich” environment. This boosts kids’ love of reading, develops their curiosity and encourages family sharing and discussion.

A 2014 study published in Oxford’s Social Forces journal researched families in 42 nations and found that having a growing home library has a strong positive influence on a child’s academic success. So continue stuffing those stockings with good reading.

Just remember these rules of thumb when selecting books, suggests Carl Harvey, an elementary school librarian in Noblesville, Indiana.

For the very young, consider board books, pop-up books and picture books. Choose books that promote “cuddle time” and introduce kids to the rhythms and sounds of language as parents read them. Some board books feature sound or textured pages, adding to the reading experience.

For early readers, consider picture books with universal themes or those that promote early learning skills, such as the alphabet or number concepts. Look for books with colorful illustrations and text that repeats or rhymes and tells a story that explores a childhood theme, such as Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” There are many “best picture books” lists, and most bookstores have a large selection to browse before you buy.

As children become proficient readers, they start to appreciate favorite authors and themes, so ask a parent or a teacher about the kids’ fiction preferences. Better yet, says Harvey, give the children gift cards and let them choose their leisure reading.

Nonfiction books are always a good bet. They can boost a child’s growing interest in a topic. A doodler might enjoy “Go: A Kidd’s Guide To Graphic Design” (Workman, 2013). A “Star Wars” fan might like “Space: A Visual Encyclopedia” (DK Children, 2010). A young chef might love “Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)” (Storey Publishing, 2015). A budding marine biologist will appreciate “Ocean: A Photicular Book” (Workman, 2014).

Kids’ almanacs — from National Geographic and Scholastic to the Farmers Almanac for Kids — are packed with “weird but true” facts the whole family can enjoy.

Children’s poetry collections are fun for the whole family as well. There are hundreds to choose from, ranging from “The Random House Book of Poetry for Children,” illustrated by Arnold Lobel (Random House, 1983), to those organized around themes, such as “National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry” (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015), and “Amazing Places” (Lee and Low Books, 2015), featuring poems about America’s great treasures.

Workman Publishing, Klutz and DK offer a rich range of “fun between two covers” for kids, says Rachelle Levy, a Florida educator. “These rainy-day books spur curiosity, discovery and laughter. You’ll find books of games, puzzles, mazes and riddles; kits that introduce hobbies; books that take kids places, teach storytelling or card games.

“Half the fun in giving is shopping for them.”

We’re sticking close to home during holiday break. What family activities can we plan to keep my elementary-age kids and their cousins constructively and inexpensively occupied, i.e., off the couch and out of malls?

Great idea, Mom. Family time is something your kids probably won’t put on their Christmas lists, but research shows that “one thing kids — even teens — really want is more time with parents,” says youth counselor Marissa Gehley, the founder of California-based consulting group KNOW (Kids Need Our Wisdom).

With that in mind, try these memory-making activities with your family:

– Celebrate traditions. Do you have traditions that you want your kids to pass on to future generations? If so, take pictures and post them to a photo-sharing service; you can also create a holiday handbook, video, blog or scrapbook. Include recipes, songs, games, readings and other things that make your holidays special. As the kids get older, they won’t put out cookies for Santa, but they can still enjoy the magic of holidays past.

– Archive family stories. Add to the family tree with memories, anecdotes and photos from grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles. Websites such as StoryWorth.com make it easy for everyone to contribute to the archive.

“The immigration debate caused my young sons to ask why people want to build a wall with Mexico, so over Thanksgiving we talked about our own family’s immigrant history,” says Houston mother Luisa Sanchez. “We started to record my parents’ and grandparents’ recollections and preserve their photos. We described their accomplishments. The kids loved it. It helped them understand their heritage as citizens in a country created by immigrants.”

– Do for others. When families volunteer together, children learn the intrinsic value of giving. “More than ever, it’s important for families to reach out and care for their communities,” says Shirley Harden, a retired educator who volunteers with her grandchildren.

Four guidelines can enrich this experience, says Harden.

For starters, “find volunteer opportunities kids can relate to,” she explains. “While you may want to sing for seniors, kids may find it more rewarding to collect blankets and food for an animal shelter.”

Second, make sure children are welcome and can do the work.

“Don’t show up at a busy soup kitchen with kids in tow unless you’ve checked ahead of time,” Harden says.

Third, discuss in advance what you’ll be doing and how your work will help others.

Fourth, “talk about the experience when you get home to give children a chance to reflect on why their efforts mattered,” says Harden.

To find appropriate places to volunteer or organizations in need of volunteers, call your local United Way or social services agency. You can also contact churches, synagogues or mosques.

– Plan a family field trip. Take advantage of early bird or after-5 p.m. prices at local museums, zoos and science centers, suggests Harden.

“With lower gas prices, drive around local neighborhoods to enjoy the holiday decorations,” she says. “Top it off with pizza at a local eatery. Make a point to share observations when you get home. This type of family talk deepens channels of communication you’ll want to keep open as your children grow older.”

Our kids love their teachers and want to buy Christmas gifts for them, but our district discourages it. Doesn’t that stifle the generosity we’re trying to instill in our kids? What is the appropriate thing to do?

Few topics spark more lively discussions at PTO meetings than whether or not to give a teacher a gift for the holidays. Some districts and states attempt to answer it with policies banning or restricting gifts to teachers.

But when kids love their teachers and parents wish to show appreciation, a “no gifts” policy is unenforceable. Kennewick, Washington, educator Brenda Mehlenbacher learned this when she was an elementary school principal. In consultation with her staff, she sent letters home two years in a row, “thanking parents for their loving generosity, but asking them to contribute to a charity in their teacher’s name rather than send a gift. They contributed to the charity and brought gifts anyway.”

Mehlenbacher adds, “We realized that bringing gifts to teachers was important to the kids, and it was futile to try to stop it.”

Instead, she explains, they put the focus on “simple gifts from the heart” and discouraged anything expensive. They told parents that gifts are not expected and that a “card a child made or a note of appreciation is one of the best gifts of all.”

To reinforce the spirit of the season, Mehlenbacher started a “Giving Tree” tradition. The school counselor writes items she knows that children in less-fortunate families need on paper ornaments. Children who wish to participate choose an ornament, buy the gift and place it under the tree.

“No one knows who participated,” Mehlenbacher says. “Something like this is a good way to promote the message that Christmas is about love, not shopping.”

One Maryland mother, Janelle Perkins, channeled kids’ desire to give into service opportunities that pay tribute to teachers and help others.

“Maryland schools require community service, so we volunteer time for local charities in teachers’ names,” she says. “It’s a nice way to bring families together. We create a card for the teacher with the message that the Perkins family will volunteer four hours collecting goods for Open Cupboard, for example, in her honor.”

If your kids want to give a more traditional item, keep these guidelines in mind, say teachers:

– No food; you don’t know who has allergies or other food restrictions.

– Nothing personal, such as perfumes, soaps or clothing.

– Forget the mugs “and all things with an apple,” says Jenny Foster, a Texas elementary teacher who has “more apple paperweights than I’ll ever use!”

The most useful gifts, say teachers, are certificates to stores where the recipient may purchase something for the classroom.

If you have time, consider coordinating a class gift with other parents, suggests Sharon Paul, a Massachusetts mom who has been a classroom teacher.

“It removes the pressure of everyone feeling like they have to do something big,” she says. “If people chip in a few dollars — and everyone can give what they wish — you can give a great gift certificate from the entire group.”

I want to buy my kids STEM toys. (I have a 9-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy.) I’ve found robotic toys related to “Star Wars” that would thrill them, but how do I know if they’re worth it? What resources can help me?

You’re not the only parent thinking about this. Parents want good-value toys that pique curiosity, capture kids’ interests, boost their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills and teach them problem-solving.

“Parents’ instinct is to spend big bucks,” says educator Warren Buckleitner, the founder and editor of Children’s Technology Review (childrenstech.com). “Before shelling out, ask: What type of play does this toy promote?”

Buckleitner thinks that the best thing you can give a kid is a toolbox from Home Depot. Really.

“Buy a screwdriver and wrench set, safety goggles, plastic gloves, magnifying glass, wire cutters, a hammer and maybe a 9-volt battery,” he says.

“Makerspaces” are the rage these days, but Buckleitner advises parents to clear a “breaker space” where kids can take apart old cellphones, CD players or your dead lawnmower.

“Let them discover O-rings and pistons and the guts of a computer keyboard,” he explains. “Sure, it’s messy, but real STEM learning is finding out what’s inside and then creating something new, whether that’s a robot that fans the dog or a sculpture for the wall. Many great inventors — from Thomas Edison to Gordon Moore — started by taking things apart.”

Once kids have a toolbox, get them a “bicycle for the Information Age.” That’s what Buckleitner calls laptops and tablets.

“Kids need a reliable device to access digital materials to tinker with, and it needs to be their own,” he says. “A $200 Chromebook provides email and Internet access.”

As for tablets, Buckleitner says some form of an iPad gives you the best bang for your buck: “Apple is the leader in offering great educational apps.”

When shopping for any device, Buckleitner says to remember the 90/50/10 rule.

“You can get 90 percent of the functionality for about half the cost simply by waiting 10 months,” he argues. “For example, rather than spring for the new $800 iPad Pro, spend $394 for an iPad Air for 90 percent of the functionality. Add a $30 Big Grips Slim case. Spend the money you save on apps.”

So, how do you choose from the thousands of kids’ apps? Buckleitner’s review staff of kids, parents and other experts puts software and hardware to the test all year. He publishes the Children’s Technology Review monthly; it maintains an active review database of 11,800 products. Chris Abraham, a New York-based dad and an elementary robotics team coach, refers people to Buckleitner’s newsletter because “we can trust their reviews.”

For example, if your goal is to find toys that teach coding, Buckleitner suggests Tynker, an app that allows kids to program robots Sphero and Ollie; Scratch 2.0, where kids can create, edit and view projects right in their web browser; the Dash and Dot Wonder Pack, which are responsive, programmable robots; and littleBits, electronic building blocks that snap together with magnets. (For more information, go to childrenstech.com.)

I heard a pediatrician on TV say parents should use real sentences when talking to babies, even if they don’t understand, and that toddlers should hear 21,000 words a day. How is this beneficial?

There’s a lot of talk these days about the importance of talking to babies. Research shows that when parents carry on conversations with very young children — even newborns — it boosts their language development dramatically and helps them succeed in school later on.

A 1995 landmark study by University of Kansas psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley showed that the amount of positive conversation parents and caregivers have with children younger than 3 has a huge impact on their educational outcomes later.

They observed how parents of varying socio-economic backgrounds spoke to their children and found that by age 3, kids in upper-income families heard roughly 30 million more words than their poorer counterparts.

Their study launched others. Stanford University found that as early as 18 months, kids in different socio-economic groups show dramatic differences in their vocabularies.

States and localities created programs to help parents engage very young children with words. Providence, Rhode Island, launched Providence Talks. The program records what a child hears for a few hours each week and then coaches parents on how to build on the conversations.

Pediatrician Dana Suskind of the University of Chicago School of Medicine founded the Thirty Million Words Initiative to teach parents how to accelerate their toddlers’ language learning. She’s partnering with the Chicago Public Library on ways to help parents enrich the language they share with their young children.

In her book, “Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain” (Dutton, 2015), Suskind says the quality of interaction between adults and children matters. Kids aren’t born smart; parents help them through verbal interaction. She stresses the “Three T’s”: Tune In, Talk More and Take Turns, and she suggests a mantra for parents: “Don’t just do it, talk them through it.”

California’s First 5 program advocates that parents talk, read and sing to children starting from birth to stimulate a baby’s brain cells to grow and develop, says Adizah Eghan of Oakland-based GreatSchools.org.

In addition, Eghan offers these strategies:

Ask open-ended questions. Don’t ask, “Do you want water?” Instead, ask, “What would you like to drink: water, milk or juice?” to get your child to use more specific words.

Turn your child’s words into sentences. If she says, “Wah, wah,” say, “Oh, would you like some water?” as you hand her the water. Then, intentionally say, “Here’s your water.”

Include toddlers in family discussions. Family time — dinners, outings, even cleaning up the house — is great for rich conversations that allow you to use new vocabulary and model sentences.

As phones and tablets hop into newborns’ cribs, Suskind is concerned about how much talk and interaction all parents, no matter what their income level, have with their children.

“Technology isn’t going away,” she says, “but we have to figure out how to make it our friend. The baby’s brain is still developed by talk.”

My daughter’s class does a lot of writing. A recent assignment had kids keeping a “gratitude journal” of things they’re thankful for. I found it oddly personal. The teacher explained that studies show that expressing gratitude helps kids become better students. Really?

A growing body of evidence suggests that having a “gratitude attitude” boosts learning. Gratitude is one of the nonacademic “soft skills” that researchers say can predict life satisfaction and high achievement.

Journalist Paul Tough put a spotlight on gratitude’s effect on learning in his book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” (Mariner, 2013). The other traits Tough describes are self-control, zest, social intelligence, optimism, grit and curiosity.

Educators are taking opportunities to weave gratitude into lessons. Gratitude Works, a program from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), is based on studies showing that fostering gratitude can increase students’ pro-social behavior, optimism, resilience and satisfaction with school.

Gratitude starts at home, says Andrea Reiser, co-author with her husband, David, of “Letters From Home: A Wake-Up Call for Success and Wealth” (Wiley, 2010). She offers these tips to foster it:

– Make gratitude a family event. Take a moment each day when everyone notes something they are grateful for. “Whether it’s a favorite toy or a birthday card from Nana,” Reiser explains, “this daily tradition helps develop a positive frame of mind.”

– Model gratitude: “Set a good example by saying ‘thank you’ sincerely and often,” notes Reiser. When kids see us expressing thanks — to the cashier at the grocery store or the safety patrol officer at school — they are learning how to express their own appreciation.

– Don’t shower kids with too much “stuff.” Buying kids whatever they want, whenever they want, “dilutes the gratitude impulse and it can mean that they don’t learn to value or respect their possessions,” says Reiser.

– Have kids pitch in when they want something. When kids save up their allowance or earnings, they have a stake in the purchase and better understand its value. It also teaches restraint and encourages kids to appreciate what they have.

– Keep thank-you notes ready to send. There are opportunities throughout the year for kids to recognize and thank those who have done something special for them, says Reiser. It’s important that they compose the notes themselves.

– Shift the focus from receiving to giving. “When kids give their time and energy to help others, they’re less likely to take things like health, home and family for granted,” notes Reiser. Many families make service to others a holiday tradition.

California youth counselor Marissa Gehley suggests incorporating gratitude into family routines: “Thank your daughter for picking up her room or walking the dog.”

She says it’s helpful for children to hear “thankful words” often, such as, “We’re fortunate to live in this cozy home,” or “We are so grateful that Uncle Trevor got here safely,” or “I really appreciate your letting me know.”

To encourage young readers to be thankful for “the beauty that exists in each day,” children’s author and illustrator Tomie dePaola just published “Look and Be Grateful” (Holiday House, 2015). Find a spot for it at the Thanksgiving table.

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