- Lower School
Handwriting is a tool used to communicate effectively with others. With all of the new technology, this form of communication has become a lost art. Handwritten notes and thank you cards have become a thing of the past. However, the importance of this has not waned. Professor Audrey van der Meer from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found, "The use of pen and paper gives the brain more 'hooks' to hang your memories on. Writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor of the brain." (Science Daily). The expression of one's own words on paper makes the process more authentic.
The Benefit of Writing Letters and Thank You Cards
In first grade, we discuss the importance of writing and how our words can make an impact. Our discussion usually leads us to the ever-popular "snail mail," which many students have yet to experience. Most students are familiar with texting, emails, FaceTime, or the occasional Snap. The discussion further examines our feelings about how we feel when we receive a card versus a text. Most students agree that receiving a handwritten card or letter makes them feel special.
Having young kids write letters and thank you cards is an authentic way to show students how to express their gratitude. It shows the recipient that you took the extra time to write a special thank you.
Research suggests that expressive handwriting increases a person's mood. So, when we show gratitude and appreciation, it boosts our mental state. Allowing kids to express themselves through handwriting enables them to feel gratitude and gain positive feelings.
Encouraging Your Child to Write a Meaningful Letter or Thank You
- Discuss with your child what they are grateful for and appreciate. This discussion should target experiences and not "stuff." It may be as simple as grandma's delicious cookies. Allow your child to identify what experiences are meaningful to them. Make a list and let them choose to whom they'd like to write a letter or thank you note.
- Gather some fun paper, pens, pencils, and other materials that allow the child to be creative.
- Modeling this behavior is essential for a child, helping them see that writing isn't something required but something fun to do.
- For very young children, have them draw a picture of what they appreciate and let them sign their name. Scribbling is beneficial at a very young age because it identifies a form of communication. So please don't panic if you cannot read what they wrote. Celebrate the effort!
- Most importantly, let the child write and spell in their authentic way. Don't spend time "correcting." Allow them to express themselves and use inventive spelling. Believe me, the recipient will be able to read the beautiful message.
Every year in first grade, my teaching partner, Mrs. K, and I have our students write thank you letters to people in our building. The students love this activity because they learn what others do in our school, whom they might not know. We discuss the importance of each job and how it impacts our school. The students have the freedom to choose someone and then create a thank you card. During this process, we keep our mission "top secret," and when the cards are complete, I put these beautiful cards in the recipient's mailbox. For weeks after, the students receive positive feedback from all their hard work. I can see the joy in their faces for what they have done, another reason why a handwritten letter or thank you card should never become a lost art. One smile is worth a thousand words.
About the Author
1st Grade Teacher
- lower school