One reason for giving personalized children’s stationery is to help motivate children to do their best possible writing. The ability to write well, especially in social settings, is one that is seldom gets enough time to develop fully in schools because of the sheer volume of other information and skills to be mastered. That is a shame because the ability to communicate graciously on paper enriches life greatly over the years.
However, it is not hard to teach the basics of social writing with just a little know-how. Believe it or not, some of the best advice for teaching the basics of writing comes from Benjamin Franklin, in his Autobiography. His method boils down to imitation – not surprisingly, as this is one of the ways children learn naturally. In his own case, he took an “odd volume of the Spectator” and found he “thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it.”
Franklin records that he read some of the papers and made short notes of the main idea in each sentence. He then set the original book aside and “try’d to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand.”
After doing this he compared his own work with the original, “discovered many faults and amended them” and often “had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English writer.”
You can modify Franklin’s method to suit your child’s ability. Simply write a sample note using the form you’d like your child to use, a kind of template to be followed. Then have your child write the same number of sentences with each sentence modeled on the one in your example, making changes to personalize the note. When the note is complete look back and read both notes aloud, compare the changes made to the original, and point out improvements. This method of using a template works particularly well with thank you notes, children’s stationery, or greeting cards sent out on vacation.
As your child gains experience it is natural to make each note a bit more advanced, until your child easily writes notes independently. The process of checking the new work against the original allows the child to see exactly where improvement is happening and builds confidence and enjoyment of the process. You can be assured that every step along the way helps your child prepare for a lifetime of enjoyable communication.