Thanksgiving in recent years has become a hot topic. And while we do all enjoy a piping hot turkey to feast on, the tradition of Thanksgiving as been under scrutiny lately. With big-box retailers pushing out Christmas and holiday decorations, goods, and even deals before we hang up our Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving is often overlooked or not celebrated anyway… until you have a preschooler in school.
Then, Thanksgiving is the biggest deal ever.
Classroom Turkey feasts.
Turkey picture books.
The famous “Turkey in Disguise” art project.
Thanksgiving takes on a whole new life.
And while preschool programs portraying Pilgrims and Indians remains controversial, there’s still a big push of all-things-Thanksgiving starting in early November.
So, here’s 5 tips to teach a preschooler about Thanksgiving:
- Focus on gratefulness
To be grateful is a hard concept for many young kids. An easy way to explain it is to have the kids talk about what they like and what they are thankful for. Older preschoolers can even name things that they have that many other kids may not. Write down one thing a day leading up to Thanksgiving. You can do a leaf tree (from any craft store) or a simple construction paper chain. Growing in gratefulness will be a visual they see each day.
- Talk about the yummy (but not really accurate) food
In our house, the big day is all about the food — specifically the turkey. Growing up we’d actually stuff the turkey. Then moving down south, we started our own tradition of deep frying our turkey instead. Many of our Southern friends eat cornbread dressing, not actual stuffing. How the cranberry sauce is prepared varies from family to family as well. Start teaching your preschooler easy and simple recipes, have them set the table, write out family member’s names on table settings, or arrange the serving trays.
- Teach about respecting cultural differences
When we moved down here, we realized many of our friends did Thanksgiving differently. And that not only ok, it’s awesome! Talk to your preschooler about different traditions, the way people dress for holidays, anything really. The idea is to celebrate differences, however they may look.
- Teach accurately about Native Americans
There’s many awesome picture books and board books to talk about Thanksgiving and giving honor to Indigenous people. Keep the topics on point with preschoolers, focusing on the language you use, and the way we honor the early people. You can also take your preschooler to local museums like Chucalissa, right here in Memphis, to show the way early Americans lived and prospered.
- Showing thankfulness goes beyond the month of November
Teach your child that being thankful is more than celebrating Thanksgiving. Have them write thank you notes for presents all year long. Send teacher happies periodically to school to show appreciation. Thanks a neighbor or family member out loud for something they did for you. Take time to visit firehouses and police stations, thanking them for their time they serve the community. Being thankful is something easy to focus on well past November.