I’m not sure how many of you live apart from Grandparents and other relatives, but our closest relatives are 2 hours away. We don’t get the chance to see family every day, every week, or even every month. So one of my kids favorite things to do (besides color pictures and mail them) is to sit down at the computer and send them an email. Last week when Daddy was gone on his trip, they got a chance to email him too.
How is this educational? They are familiarizing themselves with the computer keyboard. Because they haven’t yet memorized where each letter is, they have to “hunt and peck” to find the next letter. Eventually they start to remember, “Oh yeah, letter E was top left.” It is beginning preparation for learning to type.
Also, I have found that it is good spelling and punctuation practice. I won’t allow them to send an email that I haven’t checked for errors. Once they are finished typing their message, I’ll read over and point out the words that are spelled incorrectly, or need a capital letter, and have them fix the errors.
I will open up gmail, insert the email address, and type “From Clare” in the subject line so the recipient knows right away that it is from the kids. Then I will leave them to type their email. When they are finished, or when I determine they have had enough time, I return to check it over before sending it. When they girls were a little younger, I always clicked the send button myself, but last time I allowed Miranda to do it while I was standing there. It takes them a long time just to type a few sentences, so the emails are never long. Just a short, fun note to say hi to family.
And you should see the smiles on their faces when the recipient emails them back! They usually ask me to read it to them several times in a row so they can digest it all. Even though they talk to them regularly on the phone, getting that “letter” electronically is just something special.
Do your kids email yet?
You can find the 5 Minute Learning series here.
How early should I start teaching my preschooler? This is a question I have heard people ask, and I always think, “You have already begun.” Everything you do and say is a learning experience for your child from infancy. And I know the intent of this question is more specifically, “When should I start teaching letters and numbers, etc?”
My own preferences in this area are not to separate academics from other learning experiences. I attempt to teach the alphabet right alongside shapes and colors. I like to ease into “formal education”. We don’t just wake up one morning when the child turns 4 or 5 or 6, and say, “Today we start school!” From the time my kids are very young (18 months or 2 years old), they have supervised access to a miniature set of alphabet flashcards. I sit with them and just talk about the cards. “Letter A says a-a-a, as in apple” I don’t expect my 20 month old to start reciting her alphabet, but she is learning to recognize the letter, the sound it makes, and a clue word that begins with each sound. She will eventually connect the necessary dots in her head and reading will begin. Each of my kids has been SO EXCITED to have this learning time that they actually beg me to “do school.” I will confess that my time with Grant and Elsie is very limited when I compare it to what I had with Miranda and Clare. I don’t have as many opportunities to squeeze in those learning times, but I love when that first letter clicks!
Sounding Out ABC’s
All you need is a set of letter flashcards, letter puzzles, magnetic letters, wooden blocks with letters on them, books about letters (though I have noticed that not all books take a completely phonetic approach. We own a small letter book that has a picture of “shoes” to go along with letter ‘s’. Letter ‘s’ says s-s-s, not sh-sh-sh.) The school curriculum we use begins with vowels, and their short sounds, so that’s where I begin. I would think that you really could begin with any letter and go in any order. The key is to make it fun! It is learning time, but it does not have to be a chore. (And any parent can do this, right? Many moms think they are not qualified to teach their kids because they don’t have a degree in education, but taking it one simple step at a time will prepare your child for whatever schooling method you choose.) Kindergarten…here we come!
I remember being a child and writing “thank you” notes to my grandparents, aunts and others who had given me a gift. Though it wasn’t always what I wanted to do at that time, I was taught that it was necessary and proper. I would write them, place in an envelope with a stamp and put them in the mailbox.
With “snail mail” being so unpopular these days, thank you notes have taken a different turn. Sometimes a phone call is sufficient to say “Thanks!” Often a thank you email is just fine. And these options are FREE! So why in the world would you ever pay for a stamp just to say thank you? I think there are times when a handwritten thank you is so important. Not only does the recipient feel as though you really care about their gift, your child will also learn the importance of gratitude.
In our family, we don’t use your standard thank you note very often—we make it fun. The kids are allowed to color or draw a picture. Sometimes they use stickers. One year after Christmas, we used index-sized pieces of colored paper and I turned them loose with glitter glue. Even though the pictures and words ran together and were hardly recognizable, they were personal and made with love. When my kids receive a gift, they don’t even wait for me to tell them what to do. They run down to their “color/craft shelf” grab their stuff and color away. As a matter of fact, I have to confess that they make more notes than I actually remember to send out. I have dropped the ball many times and failed to address their envelope and put it in the mail. So if you are reading this and have not received a thank you note from my kids, you can blame MOM!
I think a handmade thank you note beats an email any day. Hey, if you’re lucky, you live close enough to your recipient that the child can even hand deliver it. No stamp needed!
Do you still send thank you notes? What types of gifts do you use them for?