“Dear Grandma, i miss you. i lost a tooth. i like school. love, Terry.”
What grandparent, aunt and uncle, cousin, or friend wouldn’t like a few
happy words from a beloved child whom he hasn’t seen in a long time?
Many families are now sending greeting cards to loved ones many miles away.
This is a terrific time to get your children into the process. We teachers
call this authentic writing -- writing for a purpose.
With a pair of scissors cut a plain piece of paper to be about the same
size as the card you are sending. Let your little ones loose with a variety
of pens, pencils, markers, or crayons.
It probably will not be reasonable to expect each child to enclose a note
with each card. Some relatives may get a note from each child. Some may
get only one. Each child is presented with different expectations.
* Preschoolers and kindergartners may not have a handle on letter formation;
nor will some of them be able to write their names. We encourage their
scribbles, call it “writing,” and praise their inclusion in the process.
This sets the tone for future positive attitudes about writing.
* By the middle of the year, most first-graders can write several coherent
* Second- through fifth-graders can write a paragraph to update correspondents
about their lives. Their nascent art skills give any note a touch of personality.
* If you have a computer, that may make the job easier. If notes are mass-produced,
be sure to add some artistic touch to personalize it for each recipient.
In the event that you have already sent out your cards and letters to families,
it is not too late to get the children involved. After all, they can respond
to greetings, letters, and photos sent to your household from other people.
By including your children in the process of writing to others, you have
several equally important concepts to put into motion: you are valuing
your child’s contribution to your activities, spending enjoyable family
time together, and placing a value on the importance of writing.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacher’s Advice for Parents.