What to do with those Valentines

 
        Valentineís Day cards provide an excellent medium for both writing and reading activities. By the time you read this, the kids will have already gone to school and distributed their cards. The writing part is over, but there are other useful learning experiences for you to share with your child:
  • Children want to understand the messages they have received. Read the cards together. If you child can read, have him read them to you. If he needs assistance, you can do the job. These cards are an excellent way of showing children that reading is a useful activity.
     
  • Talk about the classmates and teachers who have sent the cards. There are probably some people you have never heard of. Engage your child in a discussion about these people. Enjoy her role as a tour guide among the people of her world.
     
  • Discuss the language used in the cards. Young children are just beginning to understand that words can mean two or more different things. An illustration of a monster bearing the legend "Iím WILD about you" is something that you can explain, if your child doesnít get it himself. More likely, your child will understand a card that has a bee wearing a T-shirt that says "BEE my Valentine." And a bird exclaiming, "You are the TWEETEST one I know" is an opportunity to discuss the use of this language, as well.
     
  • Categorize and sort the cards. Look for common features that lend the cards to being placed together, such as cartoon characters, movie characters, animals, monsters, super heroes, etc. After you sort them, shuffle the cards together to see if you can find other ways to sort.
     
  • At various ages, this holiday takes on different meanings. For the very youngest children, it is an expression of friendship. But your child can understand that for adults, its meaning is significantly different. And be aware that while children may express that it is "yucky" for adults to express their romance for each other, they truly feel more secure when they see parents express their positive feelings for each other.
  
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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