Thank You Letters for Children
Writing thank you letters is often a child’s first experience of the art of letter writing. Making sure children write thank you letters is a discipline that should be started as soon as possible, even if they can’t actually write the body of the letters themselves.
It’s incredibly easy to get thank you letters wrong. All too often, they comprise a simple greeting, a single thank you sentence and a signature to end. This is not a good thank you letter. The person who has gone to the effort of buying your child a gift or treating them will receive a note that seems impersonal and has little effort or thought invested in it.
Before You StartMake sure your child has nice stationery and pens to use. This will make the whole task more fun. They may even like to personalise their stationery with stamps or stickers.
Before they start writing, you need to whip up a little enthusiasm for the letter they will be working on. Start by talking about the present, the treat or the occasion. Ask them how they feel about it, why they should say thank you and what they are thankful for.
Once you have discussed these points you will have the base for the letter. A good model for a child’s thank you letter answers three simple question- Who? What? Why?
Who?Make sure the child clearly addresses the letter. Even if there are several people to thank, make sure they are all named. Making the letter personal is key to the success of a thank you letter.
What?Once you have talked about why you are writing this letter, children should be able to identify what they are thankful for. Don’t ever be tempted to just say thank you, without recalling the gift, for example. This is lazy letter-writing.
Why?People like to know why their gift or gesture has been well-received. For example, if they bought a book, what is it the child likes about the book? If they enjoyed a trip to the zoo, why did they enjoy the day? Which part of the trip did they particularly enjoy?
Things to RememberEncourage your child, don’t force or admonish them. If their handwriting is less than perfect or there are spelling mistakes and errors, don’t forget it’s the type of personalisation that the recipient will find charming. The golden rule is not to be picky. It’s the effort not the end result that matters.
Add to the letter by including a little extra detail. It’s just a bonus for the reader and makes it seem extra-special. If the child is writing about a birthday gift they have received, why not include a little about their birthday party?
If your child can’t write properly, they can still have a big hand in a special thank you letter. They may not be able to handwrite the body of the letter but they could write the name of the recipient and reproduce their signature. If they need extra help, they can even trace the letters. To put their own special ‘stamp’ on the letters, let them add little drawings or doodles.
Example of a Thank You LetterDear Auntie Julie,
Thank you so much for my lovely birthday present. I was really pleased you bought me a book because I am really good at reading now. Also, the book you bought has lovely pictures to look at.
I had a lovely time on my birthday. Mummy and Daddy took me to the new play barn with some of my friends. We played for ages and afterwards Mummy and Daddy bought some yummy food for our tea. We even had cake with lots of candles on it.
Mummy says you must come and have tea with us soon. I can even read my lovely new book to you.
With lots of love,Lucy xxx
Lucy has written the sort of letter that Auntie Julie will be thrilled to receive. She addresses Auntie Julie, talks about why she liked her present and has given some lovely information about the fun she had on her birthday. The letter has just right balance of giving plenty of detail but not being too drawn out. It shows that care, thought and effort have all gone into the writing of this letter.
Encouraging children to write thank you letters is incredibly important. To write a successful letter, they need support and guidance from a parent, time to think about and discuss why they are writing and a little effort to get those all-important words on paper.