Thanksgiving Toolkit: Cognitive Flexibility

A child cutting a Thanksgiving turkey with her father

Gobble gobble! From all of us on the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum Team, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. We hope you find time for moments of tranquility and reflection while you connect with family and friends!

As Thanksgiving approaches, the season brings a perfect opportunity to instill the values of flexibility in our children, especially in classrooms and homes. Whether it’s adapting to unforeseen circumstances, accommodating diverse traditions, or adjusting plans, embracing flexibility during this holiday fosters invaluable life skills.

Flexibility in the Classroom

For teachers, Thanksgiving offers a chance to showcase adaptability by exploring diverse cultural perspectives. Incorporating various customs into lesson plans cultivates understanding and empathy among students. It opens dialogues about gratitude, diversity, and inclusion, nurturing a rich learning environment.

Flexibility at Home

Parents and caregivers, too, can demonstrate adaptability at home. Being open to changes in plans or adjusting celebrations accommodates unexpected situations and models resilience for children. It’s an opportunity to engage kids in decision-making, teaching them to navigate change positively.

Expect the unexpected. Maintaining a flexible mindset and considering multiple solutions to a problem is essential for getting back on track after a setback. If you find that your turkey is taking too long to cook, for example, consider carving it into smaller sections so that it cooks more quickly. You could also offer guests time to enjoy more appetizers, play a game such as charades, or tell some jokes or riddles!

This Thanksgiving, let’s emphasize the importance of flexibility in our children’s lives. By embracing adaptability, both teachers and families can impart invaluable lessons, fostering a generation capable of navigating life’s twists with grace and resilience.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum:

Research Institute for Learning and Development: