Charlie, Cadhla, Samantha and Haris, pupils at Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin in Clonakilty pictured holding their Gratitude Diaries. In lieu of homework in December, the 340 pupils at the school are being asked to practice simple acts of gratitude for the three weeks before Christmas.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise these were the big things!”
There is a lot of ‘sceitimíní’ (excitement) amongst the 340 pupils at Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin in Clonakilty this December. As well as the impending visit of ‘Daidí na Nollag’, the school decided that there would be no ‘obair bhaile’ (homework), for anyone from December 1 up to the Christmas holidays!
In lieu of homework, the pupils are being asked to practice simple acts of gratitude for the three weeks, which Íde Ní Mhuirí, Leas Phríomhoide says, “Hopefully it will help our pupils discover the key to happiness, for now and their future lives.
“With the lead up to Christmas and ‘the season of goodwill’, we sometimes tend to focus on what we would like to have rather than appreciating the good things that are right in front of us. In a world consumed by social media, our young people are constantly experiencing pressure,” explained Múinteoir Íde.
‘Nollaig Lúcháireach’ started on December 1 at the school and instead of formal homework until the Christmas holidays, the páistí are asked to take a few moments at home every day with their families to focus on being grateful for what they have and the positive things that happened in their lives that particular day. They are also asked to log these feelings of gratitude in their special ‘Dialann Buíochais’ (Gratitude Diaries) in written or pictorial form.
“The emphasis for the children is to appreciate and record very simple things such as seeing a rainbow or praising the kindness of another child at school who shared their colours with them, giving the feeling of goodness and appreciation,” explained Múinteoir Íde.
Also every day during December, there is a ‘Briseadh Buíochais’, (Gratitude Break), during schooltime, during which all pupils and staff simultaneously ‘down tools’ and listen to a musical excerpt, taking time out from a busy schedule to mull over the things they have to be thankful for that day.
“Practicing gratitude and simply acknowledging the good things that we have can make a big difference to all our lives. It has been scientifically proven that gratitude not only improves psychological health and increases mental strength, but also improves self-esteem, enhances empathy, reduces aggression and boosts overall physical health,” said Múinteoir Íde, who thanked the parents of the school who have embraced the idea, as they did with a similar no homework initiative last June, which focused on ‘Health and Fitness’.
“Our páistí are the heartbeat of our school. If we can equip them with the tools to find happiness and resilience in a world that can at times be hectic and fast-paced, then there is no better time than the present do so,” she concluded.
Since October, the páistí at Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin have also been busy ‘Filling Buckets’, (based on the book ‘The Bucket Filler’), showing compassion and empathy to their peers.