Gratitude and Out-of-School Time

December 19, 2018

snowflake hangingThis is a season of giving and gratitude, so here are some of the things we’re grateful for in out-of-school time (OST) – and a reminder of how much of an impact gratitude can have in OST and in the lives of children and youth.

As we continue to express and encourage gratitude in OST, let us remember the positive effect it can have for youth and educators. Research shows us that gratitude helps people to form, maintain, and strengthen supportive relationships and to feel connected to a caring community that values their contributions. For youth, this means that gratitude may be more than momentary happiness. It can also inspire them to find ways of contributing to their neighborhood, community, and world; to improve social confidence and interpersonal relationships; and to appreciate and respect the accomplishments of others (Bono, Froh, Disabato, Blalock, McKnight, & Bauser, 2017; Froh, Bono, Emmons, & Motiv, 2010).

Gratitude may also contribute to young people’s resilience and healthy development by improving their social confidence while decreasing stress, anxiety, and depression (Bono et al., 2017; Froh et al., 2010). Children who were taught gratefulness had a better feeling about school, engaged more with their school and class work, and actually looked forward to going to school. This school satisfaction, in turn, is related to both academic and social success (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008; Verkuyten &Thijs, 2002).

High-quality OST programs offer social-emotional learning experiences, access to caring adults, and opportunities to engage in skill-building and leadership activities. All of these features of high-quality programs help youth feel good about themselves. When youth feel this way, they are more likely to feel grateful and express gratitude throughout their lives (Scales, Benson, Leffert, & Blyth, 2000).

Let’s work to keep gratitude at the center of OST in 2019.  Happy holidays from all of us at NIOST. We are grateful to work and learn with you.


Bono, G., Froh, J., Disabato, D., Blalock, D., McKnight, P. & Bauser, S. (2017) Gratitude’s role in adolescent antisocial and pro-social behavior: A 4-year longitudinal investigation. The Journal of Positive Psychology. Retrieved 11/13/2018.

Dunn, J. R., & Schweitzer, M. E. (2005). Feeling and believing: The influence of emotion on trust. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(5), 736-748.

Froh, J., Bono, G., Emmons, R. & Motiv, E. (2010) Being grateful is beyond good manners: Gratitude and motivation to contribute to society among early adolescents. Motivation and Emotion. Retrieved 11/13/18.

Froh, J., Emmons, R., & Sefick, W. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology 46(2), 213-33.

Scales, P. C., Benson, P., Leffert, N., & Blyth, D. (2000). Contribution of developmental assets to the prediction of thriving among adolescents. Applied Developmental Science, 4(1), 27-46.

Verkuyten, M. & Thijs, J. (2002) School satisfaction of elementary school children: The role of performance, peer relations, ethnicity and gender. Social Indicators Research. 59(2), 203. Retrieved 11/13/18.


    "NIOST has been an anchor for numerous school age care projects we do, including ASQ (After-School Quality) and Links to Learning. They are a nationally respected organization that Pennsylvania has partnered with for over 20 years."

    – Betsy O. Saatman, TA Specialist/SAC Initiatives, Pennsylvania Key

    "NIOST was a core partner in supporting the development of quality improvement systems across the nine cities that participated in The Wallace Foundation Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative. The NIOST team worked well with other technical assistance partners in the initiative, always willing to pitch in and collaborate with others to make our professional learning community meetings a team effort. I truly hope the Foundation has an opportunity to partner with them in the future."

    – Priscilla M. Little, Initiative Manager, The Wallace Foundation


    "NIOST has been a leader in the out-of-school time field for as long as I can remember, and I have relied on their research, tools, and advice to improve my practice throughout my career. Their staff members are good partners and good listeners, and their influence across the country is palpable."

    – Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools, Children's Aid Society

    "Georgia Hall, Ellen Gannett, and the NIOST team have been instrumental in driving the healthy afterschool movement. Their dedication to quality practice, informed policy, and collective impact is instrumental in our effort to create healthier communities."

    – Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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The National Institute on Out-of-School Time

A program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

Wellesley Centers for Women
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