Few things are as thrilling to a child as receiving a letter in the mail. And they need to learn that when they write a letter to someone, they will be giving that same joy to the receive of their letter.
A few weeks ago, my little girl Autumn received a post card from a nationally televised children's program. The post card was in response to a drawing which Autumn had sent. The card was a treasure to Autumn and went in our box of "letter treasures."
Looking through the box, when I added Autumn's card, I found the card the boys had received from Mr. Rodgers of public television and a response to Joshua's letter of complaint to the network for their cancellation of "Battlestar Gallactica," (now back on the air). I also found my own letter from Miss Flora who was the hostess of "Romper Room" when I was a child.
My children all began using the mail regularly when my mother moved out of town. The children felt insecure about staying in touch with her when she moved , but they soon found that a letter would keep them in touch nicely.
Zach, my middle child, was only five years old when his grandmother moved. Soon after she had moved, Zach had a birthday. My mom sent him a card with a dollar in it. Zach was so impressed that he could still get his traditional "birthday dollar" long distance, that he enclosed a dime to her when he wrote back.
Actually, sending money through the mail is not a good idea, as my oldest child, Joshua, learned when he was involved in a card selling business. He worked hard selling an older of greeting cards to family members and confidently sent the money in that he had collected for the cards.
Several days later, waiting for his prize to arrive for selling the cards, Joshua received a letter from the post office saying that his correspondence had been destroyed.
We reimbursed Joshua with a check and no punishment because the incident had been a lesson in itself not to put money in the mail.
Writing letters can be a learning experience for children. They can learn skills in communication that the telephone cannot teach. Even a small child learns, in dictating a letter to a parent, the importance of putting ideas in an orderly pattern. At age four, Autumn had many a good laugh at herself when I read back verbatim a letter she was dictating to my other, "um Grandma, and um Grandma."
Zach, when he was five and six wrote beautiful letters to his grandparents and cousins using little drawings to substitute for words he could not yet spell. Zach has since become quite a creative little artist and has won a lot of praise for his art work in school because it conveys such feeling and clarity. To us, that is natural. It was one of his first forms of communication.