The art of the handwritten thank you note seems to be quickly fading into the past. But writing thank you notes is a useful exercise for children. It helps instill the message that receiving a gift is not a right, but a privilege. Creating a written message also forces kids to sit down and think about the person who gave the gift. Writing longhand also improves small-motor skills in younger kids, as well as sparking creative thinking in all ages.
So how can parents encourage this practice? By making it fun instead of a dreaded task! Try putting together a thank you note kit. Grab a lidded box (a shoebox works well) and put in some blank note cards, envelopes and postage stamps. Then, cruise the aisles of the dollar or craft store for inspiring art supplies with which to decorate those notes.
Here are some examples of what could be included in your thank you note kit:
- Colored and metallic markers
- Stamps and stamp pad or self-inking stamps
- White glue, glitter
- Colored pencils, crayons
- Chalk and oil pastels
Helping a younger elementary school child write a note can be monotonous for both of you. Consider writing out a “boiler plate” thank you on a 4×6 inch card and placing the card in a stand-alone Lucite frame. This goes in the box with everything else, and comes out again when it is time for note writing.
Thank you for the (blank).
For pre-writers, write out the basic message yourself and allow the child to decorate the card with art supplies. They should sign their own name if they are able. Young elementary school-age kids can copy the basic message and personalize the card with artwork. Encourage older children to make their notes personal by writing down at least one thing they liked about the gift.
Kids will probably still need a nudge to get going on those notes, but a thank you note kit will make it much more fun for the kids and easier for the parent. And relatives who receive these decorated, personal notes will surely find them priceless.
Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer
and the mother of three children
and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.