Adriana Zoder: Children benefit from writing and sending cards

Feb. 08, 2014 @ 11:24 PM

With Christmas behind us and several people to thank for their gifts, I sat down with my children and asked them to draw some pictures as a way to express gratitude.

Valentine’s Day is coming up and we will work on cards that say “I love you” for special people in their lives. Writing cards for others falls in the category of “service” – an activity for which the children do not receive anything material in return.

Sending a card to somebody or drawing something and sharing it in person puts a smile on the recipient’s face. Children should learn to enjoy making others smile through their efforts.

Here are seven benefits of card-writing:

1. Kids practice good etiquette. In our world of social media, the line between good and bad manners is becoming blurred. Hanging on to etiquette standards sets your children apart from the crowd. One day, the card-writing habit will translate into better relationships with co-workers and bosses, not to mention extended family members.

2. Children learn that thankfulness must reward kindness. They say kindness comes back. If you received kindness, you should make sure it goes back to the sender at least in the form of a thank-you note. However, you should also take the initiative and reach out to others by writing a nice birthday card, or one for whatever the occasion may be.

3. Crafts allow children artistic license, and drawing makes a great craft. When they draw, they create something with their hands. They don’t destroy. They build, if you will. They don’t need huge loads of artistic talent, either. They can draw gift boxes, a Christmas tree, couches, and stick figures, for instance. Nothing elaborate, but still a way to express thankfulness for an event that has now become a shared family memory.

4. Children get away from the entitlement mentality. Somebody actually went to work, earned money, and then spent some of this money on a gift, making the effort to wrap and transport it from their house to ours. That’s selflessness. It’s also called love. Children must understand family members love them and show their love through gifts, but only on special occasions. At other family gatherings, kids receive no gifts. Hence, the need for a thank-you note when they do.

5. Low-tech projects help children reinvent the wheel on a few levels. Their brains need this kind of work. Old-fashioned, pen and paper thank-you notes, with a stamp and a hand-addressed envelope, connect these millennial children to the pre-Internet era.

6. Homemade cards save you money. Have you seen the prices on Hallmark cards lately? Craft projects do not cost much. Construction paper, crayons, stickers, glue and a pair of blunt scissors can be purchased in the dollar section of many stores.

7. A DIY project holds more emotional value than a store-bought item. I know grandparents who frame some of these precious cards or drawings. They hang them in the dining room or the living room. Not just a conversation piece next time a friend comes over, the framed art connects generations probably more than old family pictures.

A 15-minute session of card-writing with the kids is worth the effort this Valentine’s Day, and throughout the year.

Adriana Zoder, a Gatlinburg resident, is a writer and homeschooling mom. She and her husband have two children. She maintains the award-winning blog