Two Jewish primary schools have taken part in a ground-breaking trial to assess the effects of the Big Birthday Appeal’s gratitude journal for kids. The Big Birthday Appeal was co-founded by Suzy Glaskie and Judith Moryoussef in 2001 to inspire kids to get involved with charity-giving and helping others from an early age. To date, Big Birthday has raised over £230,000 to help less fortunate Jewish children.
The charity donated the books to Manchester based King David Primary School pupils in Year 4 and North Cheshire Jewish Primary School (NCJPS) pupils in Years 2, 4 and 5.
The daily practice involved writing down three things that the children were grateful for. The Big Birthday gratitude journal – which was launched in December 2020 – fosters a growth mindset and empowers children to develop their self-worth and self-esteem by helping them to focus on what they’ve done well each day.
The Big Birthday’s gratitude journals can be purchased at Thebigbirthdayappeal.org, with all proceeds going to help local Jewish children with special needs. The print of the book was funded by A Smile for Orly, in memory of Orly Feddy who passed away aged 18 months.
Suzy Glaskie, Big Birthday co-founder, said: “We’ve been totally blown away by the response from the children. The breadth of things they found to be grateful for has been astounding: from a cosy bed to sleep in, to being left-handed, and even being bitten by a dog! We’ve also been so happy to hear feedback from the teachers showing that the children are more focused with their work, in addition to being more positive.
“There’s so much science to show that a daily gratitude practice is the most powerfully effective way to boost our levels of emotional resilience, positivity and happiness. Our hope is that, by encouraging children to start this practice at a young age, they will grow up with an attitude of gratitude for life. At a time when the pandemic has had such an adverse effect on kids’ mental health and, when so many young people are struggling with anxiety and low self-esteem, a gratitude practice is more relevant than ever.”
Sophie Margolis, who teaches Year 4 at King David Primary School, said: “I’ve noticed a tangible difference in the class as the weeks have progressed. Writing daily in the Big Birthday gratitude journal has meant that the children are constantly focusing on the positives rather than the negatives. Their confidence in their work has really improved. One of my pupils, who finds some of the work challenging, has seen that the journal helps her achieve, as she is focusing on the positives of her work. It’s been a wonderful experience on every level and we really hope to continue with it.”
Nine year-old King David pupil Spencer Lever, said: “You can write your emotions and feelings in a book where no one can see them – it’s only for you.” While Andrew Lee, who teaches Year 2 at NCJPS, said: “I’ve found it really helpful for the children to have five minutes that’s just for them, for self-reflection. I’ve noticed that they’re calmer. I also think it’s had a positive impact on their English skills.” Christine Hession, who teaches Year 4 at NCJPS, said: “Gratitude is such a powerful tool because you get more of what you focus on. It’s been lovely for me to see where the children have taken the concept of gratitude. It’s allowed us to have deep conversations around things we normally take for granted.”
One of her pupils, 8-year-old Joshua Jaoui, said of the journal: “Sometimes when we’ve had a sad day, we can think about all the things we’re grateful for and feel better.”
If you’re interested in trialling the journal at your school, email firstname.lastname@example.org