Every January when we resume our schoolwork, and also for the week or so after each child’s birthday, the language arts instruction in our homeschool centers around writing thank you notes. In today’s world of electronic communication, I believe that learning to write meaningful thank you notes is a valuable lesson. Most everyone loves to receive personal mail, and when the letter is one that expresses gratitude, it brings even more happiness to the recipient.
Here are some helpful hints when teaching your children how to write thank you notes.
- Provide Appropriate Supplies: I sometimes give stationary as gifts to my children. Personalized stationary makes letter writing fun. You can also provide the children with blank paper or notecards, markers, stamps and ink, and stickers, and then let them design their own stationary. Decorating the envelopes can be fun too.
- Help the Children Make a List of People to Write: Each child makes a list of gifts received and the giver. I help younger children make their list. Usually on the first day back to school after the holiday season, making the list and designing the stationary is all that we do.
- Model Writing the Letters: I model writing thank you notes in two different ways. 1. I write a sample thank you note on our marker board, discussing with the children all of elements that they need to include. I teach them to write a sentence or two telling the person how they are using or playing with the gift. Then they also include a sentence or two expressing their appreciation for the person thinking of them by giving them a gift. 2. I write actual thank you notes myself while they are writing theirs.
- Divide the Task Into Manageable Amounts: Younger children may write only one thank you note each day, while an older child can write two, three, or even four.
- Be Creative With Young Children: As soon as your child can scribble, he can contribute. For the very young child, I write the thank you completely by myself, and then let the child “sign” the note with a scribble. When the child can draw, I ask him to draw a picture for the thank you note recipient, and then I will include a note expressing thanks or even write the letter on the drawing itself. A preschool or kindergarten aged child can dictate a letter to me, sign his name, and include a picture.
- Teach How To Address the Envelope: I use my marker board to illustrate what the front of an addressed envelope should look like. I teach them where to put the return address, recipient’s address, and stamp. I also provide return address labels (it is fun to make these on the computer with the children) and stamps.
To encourage letter writing year round, I keep a folder of return addresses, stamps, and a list of addresses of people that my children commonly write letters to. This list includes their friends, pen pals, elderly people in our church family, and relatives. Throughout our school year, I normally require my children to write one letter a week to someone on the list.
In addition to writing thank you notes, Roan writes regularly at her personal blog, Joyful Always. Her blog posts include tips for homeschooling, homemaking, organization, and running. Roan is the mother of five children, ages 4,6,11,13, and 15.
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