Handwriting is Hard: Allowing children to type thank-you notes

by epi on October 21, 2013

Q: Is it appropriate to allow children to type their thank-you notes instead of handwriting them? My 10 year old son gets very frustrated when writing and tends to make numerous mistakes, causing him to have to start over, but he is a fantastic typist. I allowed him to type his thank-you notes after this 9th birthday and this method went so much more smoothly for him. I am an advocate for teaching manners to my children and don’t want to steer them in the wrong direction. What do you feel should be the developmental progression toward handwritten notes from children?

A: You put the focus on the important component – offering thanks and writing thank-you notes. If his handwriting is difficult to read, there is no reason he can’t use the computer to write them. As his small motor skills develop he may find it less of a task to hand write, which is preferable, but for now this is just fine and he should be commended for writing and sharing his gratitude with those who gave him gifts.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth October 21, 2013 at 9:19 am

On the other hand, writing thank you notes sounds like good handwriting practice. Kids don’t get better unless they practice! I would let him make mistakes and use white-out instead of having to start over every time, which should cut down on frustration, and only have him do one or two per sitting. I don’t have anything against type-written notes, but to do so in this case seems like a missed opportunity.

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Joanna October 22, 2013 at 9:09 am

Agreed! Just because he’s not the best at something right now doesn’t mean he should just scrap the whole thing. Also, realistically speaking, how many thank you notes does he have to do, aside from birthdays and holidays? I’m sure it’s not exactly a pressure put upon him every single week…surely he can manage a few letters per year.

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Jody October 21, 2013 at 9:37 am

A good compromise might be to have him write a couple notes (to get handwriting practice, as Elizabeth notes) and let him type the others. Maybe his grandparents or aunts/uncles could get a handwritten note — or perhaps his best friend — and the others could get typed notes. As EPI says, your focus is already on the important part.

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Karen October 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm

This is a good idea! Practice is important, but I don’t think so necessary that every single note should be expected to be hand-written if it causes him so much frustration. He should have good associations with writing thank you notes, and I suppose it won’t be the worst thing in the world if he ends up typing his thank you notes when he grows up. Definitely more important to nurture the habit of being thankful and communicating his gratitude.

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Alicia October 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm

As a kid my handwriting was awful ( ok it is still awful). My parents made me sign my notes myself but I could use the computer to type up the notes. Somehow as an adult great typing is much more useful then pretty handwriting. I do a combo of handwritten and typed notes these days but still send them while most of my peers do not.

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Jazzgirl205 October 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

I’m glad he’s writing Thankyou notes. I do think he should not neglect his handwriting, however. My dd’s handwriting was bad and my dh did this trick to improve it. He took her outside to hunt for buzzard or turkey feathers. He taught her how to cut it into a pen with her penknife and condition the nib in a cup of hot sand. She was then ready to dip her own pen in a bottle of ink and practice writing. This gave her a feeling of accomplishment and made her WANT to practice her writing. That was when she was 9. She’s 15 and has a beautiful handwriting and loves the outdoors.

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