Believe me, nothing means more to teachers than handwritten thank-you notes, whether from students or their parents.
It doesn’t have to be long, or fancy; so long as it’s sincere, that’s what counts.
My husband the math teacher still has, hanging in his office, a framed crayon drawing of a “house of math” that a student made for him over a decade ago, as part of her thank-you note.
And if you’re doing this activity with your kids, it’s a great way to teach them valuable life lessons about gratitude and saying thanks.
Thank You Notes At School
Last Tuesday, when Essie and I went into Kimmie’s classroom to help out with Writer’s Workshop, I was really impressed with Ms. Sema’s lesson plan: writing thank you notes for teachers who had helped the students that year.
First the students made a list of the adults they’d worked with, from classroom aides and reading specialists to their teachers for art, music, and phys. ed.
Next, Ms. Sema worked with them to write a sample thank-you note template on the board. (This is a good idea if your child isn’t an expert thank you note writer already; see below for my Foolproof Formula.)
Finally, each student got to write a note to a teacher of their choice, using a blank card with a picture on the front that they could color in. Ms. Sema then put the finished notes in the teachers’ mailboxes.
Little did Ms. Sema know that Kimmie had already written her a thank-you note the night before, which we delivered to her later that week.
Since my family of origin is big on thank you notes anyway, this is a skill Kimmie and I have already practiced at home. But the lessons from school were pretty similar to what we’ve done at home.
The Foolproof Formula for Thank You Notes
If you haven’t written a gazillion thank you notes in your life already, there’s a pretty simple formula. It’s useful to work through this with your kiddo, since we’re talking valuable life lessons here:
- Greeting: Dear [insert name here]
- First sentence Thank you for [fill-in-the-blank].
- Second sentence [It’s always nice to elaborate on whatever-you-have-to-say in a second sentence, or even a third. It makes the note seem less curt, and more “real” – like you really meant to write it, not just like you’re writing it because somebody is making you do so.]
- Closing [This could be a separate sentence – “Thanks again for the great year!” – before a closing phrase, or simply a closing phrase, from “Sincerely,” to “Thanks again,” to “Your friend,”; it’s up to the writer.]
- Signature [you’d be surprised how many of Kimmie’s classmates almost forgot this step!]
For what it’s worth, you don’t need to run out and buy a package of commercially-produced thank you notes for your kids to use! The artwork they make for their teachers, on the cover and inside the notes, is more than half the fun for both your kiddos and their notes’ recipients.
If you’re a stickler for a proper note that says “thank you” on the front, and you have an artistic bent, you can always draw a blank note on half a sheet of paper, go over it with a fine-point black marker, and make copies for your kids to color in. Or just do an online search for printable thank you notes to color in or something along those lines.
Or, even better, fold a blank sheet of paper in half and have your kids do their own drawings.
Have your kids ever written thank you notes for their teachers at the end of the school year? Or have you, as a parent, ever written your kids’ instructors a note of thanks? If not, give it a try.
Trust me, it wil mean the world to them.