Teaching Kids to Write Thank You Notes

Teaching kids to write thank you notes seems to be a thing of the past, but I think we should bring back this long-standing tradition!

It’s so important we raise children that know how to express gratitude in a meaningful way, and writing thank you notes is a great way for them to practice that life skill.

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Writing thank you cards is actually a fantastic creative outlet that reinforces many of the writing and communication skills so many of us want our children to learn.

Not only is writing thank you letters educational, but spending time now in creating a tradition of gratitude will go a long way in helping our children grow up to be the grateful adults we want to see them become.

Why Kids Should Still Write Thank You Notes

  • It’s important to teach children that the way something is communicated matters. In many situations, there can be a big difference in being told “thank you” in a text message, versus in a phone call, versus in a handwritten note. Writing thank you cards takes time, and in taking that time, we show respect and honor to the person whom we are thanking.
  • It helps curb selfishness and encourages a culture of gratitude. As a child realizes a person took time to choose a gift for them, or teach them something, it helps them realize that the least they could do is take time to thank them.
  • It’s a great opportunity to practice many types of skills! Spelling, parts of a letter, how to address an envelope…so many things! I love finding ways to use real life opportunities to practice these important skills.

When To Write Thank You Cards

  • After Receiving an Individual Gift – Birthday time and the Christmas season are typically two fantastic opportunities for writing thank you notes!
  • At the End of a Season or Academic Year – Does your child have a teacher, coach, or therapist they could thank with a handwritten note?
  • At the Close of an Event – Has your child been a part of a play? Or a concert season? Who deserves their thanks for a special season or experience?
  • When they Spot a Helper – Is there a leader or special helper that makes a difference in your community? Your family’s pastor, the local police force, a delivery person, a garbage collector? Many times these individuals go above and beyond for the families in their community, and a thank-you can mean a lot to them.

Laying The Groundwork For A Gratitude Habit

For some children, writing thank you notes can feel like a chore.

If you find yourself experiencing a parenting struggle in this area, you are not alone!

Want to make this a smooth experience for your kids? Here are a few things that might be helpful to consider!

  • Start when they’re young! – Beginning this habit early can make a huge difference, but maybe your kids are a bit older and you’re wanting to encourage them to work on this skill. No worries – it’s still possible to make thank-you note writing possible in your family life.
  • Tell Them The Why – Explain to your children why sending thank you cards is important. Remind them of the thoughtfulness someone showed to them! Maybe a book like this would help start the conversation:

  • Have Special Stationary – There are many creative ways to approach thank you card prep. Having special stationary or note cards can be helpful for some kids! Blank cards, colorful stationary, special pens, and any necessary mailing materials can be kept together in one basket. This can make it feel special when it’s time to sit down and gets thank you cards written. Light a candle, turn on some music, have a special snack – you get the idea. (Note from Experience: Make sure the snack isn’t something that will smear all over the thank you cards. I’ve been there!) 😉
  • Make A Routine – There are many different ways to make writing thank you notes a routine. Choose the habit that works best for your family! Maybe you make it a rule that thank you cards must be written the same day the gift is received. That becomes your standard routine – get a gift, write a thank you. In time, you don’t give it a second thought. Perhaps it works best if the whole family sits down around the kitchen table and prepare cards together. This can be particularly helpful after holidays. This is the time of year when most members of the family will have a thank you note they need to write.
  • Set Consequences – At some point, the thank you cards just have to be written. I like to use positive reinforcement – maybe when the thank you cards are finished, we can grab ice cream! This can be a great incentive for the parents as well! Strawberry milkshake, please!

Practical Tips For Kids Of All Ages

  • Even the youngest children can start learning these important life skills! If they’re not yet writing, let them draw or color a picture related to the gift or gift giver. Or maybe they’d prefer to decorate a blank note card with doodles in their favorite color. You can supply the handwritten part later, but you’ve still involved them in the gratitude process. As they get older, serve as their scribe as you start teaching them how thank you cards should be formulated.
Girl Coloring Picture in a Coloring Book
Free Kid-Friendly Thank You Note Cards by This Little Home of Mine

I Chronicles 16:34, “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”

  • If your young kids are still growing in their writing skills, the idea of writing a whole thank you card may seen daunting. They may feel like giving up before they even get started. Try using sentence starters! Write phrases such as “Thank you for _________” and let them supply the missing part. It will seem much less overwhelming. If you need help, there are many free printables of thank you letters with these prompts!
  • Older children can use thank you cards to practice their new spelling or vocabulary words! Sure, it’s technically fine to use a sentence such as “I liked this gift because playing with it is fun.”, but with a little effort, they could transform that sentence into something rich with adjectives and adverbs! Help them get more detailed and descriptive, listing specific things they are grateful for or appreciate.
  • A handwritten letter is a great opportunity for older kids to practice the writing process! Let them write their own rough drafts, help them make edits, and then get out nice stationary for the final copy. Does your English Language Arts curriculum include a section about letter writing? I love how real-life practice with this skill has prepared my kids with these skills – without having to rely on the curriculum to practice letter writing.

Give thanks with a grateful heart. – Don Moen

Kid Writing Thank You Note
  • Practice! If your kids only write thank you cards on their birthdays and after Christmas, that may not be frequently enough to form a habit. Consider writing thank you cards monthly. They can write ones to thank good friends for a fun playdate, their mailman for running the route on hot summer days, their coach for an exciting win, etc.

Thank You Note Class on Outschool

There is truly just about any class you can think of on Outschool – yes, even classes that will encourage your kids to write fantastic thank you notes!

Books for Young Kids about Saying Thank You

Homeschooling Resources Just for You

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