Home > Kids > Values and Responsibilities > Manners > Teaching Children the Art of Correspondence
|

Teaching Children the Art of Correspondence

Children who write notes and letters give a great deal of pleasure and have a better chance of experiencing the pleasure of receiving correspondence in return. More important, they grow up imbued with the knowledge of the power and pleasures of personal correspondence.

It is never too early to begin giving your children a respect for the written word and the ceremonies surrounding it. Even before children are old enough to write, they will be aware that writing letters is an important activity: “I'm writing to Aunt Nora to thank her for ….”

Thank-You Letters

The thank-you letter is probably the first kind of correspondence your child will send. Make the experience as comfortable as possible. A thank-you note from a seven year old does not have to be spelled and punctuated perfectly. It is all right for a note from a child to look like a note from a child. Praise any effort a child makes to correspond.

But the basic rules apply even to the very young. The note needs a salutation. Mention the specific gift or favor. Sign with Love or other appropriate sentiment. Later, thank-you notes can include an acknowledgment of the effort behind the gift: “You must have spent the whole day baking these cookies.” You can also let the giver know how the gift will be used: “These cookies will be a big hit at my sleep-over party tomorrow.”

And yes, a child must send thank-you notes for Christmas gifts unless the giver is present—and is properly thanked—when the gift is opened.

Don't allow your children to use preprinted thank-you notes. They defeat the purpose of giving personal thanks for a personal gift.

Apology Letters

Let's pretend that your child knocked a baseball through a neighbor's window. Even if the child apologized on the scene, a note of apology is called for. It should

  • Be prompt.
  • Acknowledge fault and apologize.
  • Offer to make amends.

It should also be written in ink and signed Sincerely. The envelope should have the sender's name and address in the upper left, and the addressee's name should be preceded by an honorific such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Dr. (These, by the way, are the only honorifics that are abbreviated.) The letter will look something like this:

    Dear Mr. Smith:

    Please accept my apology for breaking your window the other day. It was careless of me, and I feel bad about it. I know all the trouble it has caused you. If you would like, I will repair the window myself. If you have made other arrangements, please send me the bill so that I can pay for the damage.

    Sincerely,

    Tommy Jones



More on: Manners

|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Etiquette © 2004 by Mary Mitchell. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


highlights

8 Quick Tips for Curbing Your Family's Screen Time
Setting limits on screen time — and remembering to put down our own devices — is one of the biggest parenting challenges of our time. Use this guide to create healthy screen-time rules for your whole family.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

10 Best Beach-Themed Crafts and Activities
Sand, seashells, and stones can provide hours of family fun. Check out the greatest beach-related activities and crafts for toddlers on up.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks