November is the month to give thanks, but with the gift-giving season coming up, it is important to teach kids giving thanks when they receive a present.
Expressing thanks is something that a child can do from an early age. If a child can talk, they can express “thank you.” Teaching children to send a thank you note is teaching them about appreciation. It is a good idea to explain to children that when they receive a gift, the person that gave them the gift took the time to select the gift just for them. A child should also be told that the gift-giver spent money on the gift, wrapped it, and delivered it (by mail or in person). Children should be taught that a thank you note expresses appreciation to the person who gave the present, and if it was mailed, a thank you note lets the gift-giver know that the gift arrived.
For very young children who cannot read or write, there are other ways to express thanks in a note. Toddlers can draw a picture of themselves with the gift or a picture drawn with the gift-giver in mind. An adult can add a note, such as “Adam created this drawing in appreciation for your gift of his puzzle. Thank you!”
As children are beginning to write, there are many fill-in-the-blank thank you card templates. It is a great start to get kids to think about how thank you notes should be written. Here are a few websites that offer free templates:
Kids who can read and write should be able to write thank you notes on their own. Encourage these children to include the specific gift and how they will use it. (Example: “Thank you for the puzzle. I will have fun putting it together.” or “Thank you for the money. I plan to buy a new Barbie Doll.”)
Think of the educational value of writing notes.
Some teachers and child care providers have children write notes in conjunction with a writing lesson. Some ideas from teachers include writing a thank you note to parents to express appreciation for their support during the school year or to thank them for bringing snacks or treats to a special class party. One provider has her pre-schoolers write thank you notes each Valentine’s Day to their parents for their love. A first-grade teacher has children write notes of thanks each Thanksgiving.