Nora recently received a small package from one of her playmates back in NY with a birthday greeting and small gift. This made her feel so special and as a result she wrote pretend letters all that morning. Yesterday she received a handmade Halloween card from her Aunt and when I handed her the envelope she hugged me and said, “Open it! Let’s open it!” She likes me to deliver her mail personally to her cardboard castle by knocking on the door, then she puts her arm out the window to take the letter and says, “Thank you mail lady!”
Although we live in the era of instant messaging, skype and email, I have realized that there is still a lot that little ones can learn from good ol’ snail mail. It is an intriguing process for children to see the mail delivered and then retrieve it from the mail box themselves. If there is something for them in the mail it makes them feel important and included. They also enjoy preparing their own mail to send. Writing a simple question in a letter and then waiting for a response by mail can demonstrated the concept of written correspondence. Being capable of relaying the events of a day in chronological order and with some detail is an important skill. We can chat about the basic form of a letter and the appropriate things to write in a birthday or thank you card. Nora then puts her colored picture or letter into the envelope herself, seals it herself and writes her name in the corner by tracing over my writing. Next, she needs to put on the stamp and take it to the mailbox, which is the part she seems the most delighted with. Doing this makes her feel capable and builds confidence. And of course, the grandparent, cousin or friend who gets the mail is just as delighted to be her pen pal.