Simple homework activities arrived in my daughter’s backpack the last few days now that school is in full swing. While she sounded out her list of favorite foods and labeled her classmate’s pictures, I needed something to work on near her without hovering over her every pencil mark.
Last fall was the first time she carried a cold meal in her pink cupcake lunchbox. With every good intention, I began the year drawing a little picture or writing out two letter words that she might recognize.
As she picked up more reading skills, I ran short on time in the mornings, but still occasionally left her a surprise message to discover.
I remember a grade school friend opening one from her mom that read, “Don’t forget to twist your nose!” We giggled about it forever.
Didn’t her mom know we were supposed to turn our newly pierced earrings?!
As back to school season ramped up over the last several weeks, I found many notes online that I flagged for later, but just haven’t gotten around to printing and trimming.
But, writing out one sentence to a child isn’t too intimidating.
Smiles come fairly easily with a quick joke or observation. Even just finding the paper itself brings an element of delight. They instantly feel loved and thought of.
Whether you have kids or pets and what some of your basic favorites are entertains them as they compare your answers with their own. They want to know if you play a sport and what you do at your job, or how you celebrate special days and events.
The trick with the youngest crowd is to keep it simple (and maybe even practice your puppy drawing skills).
Chances are, your stick figures or big silly faces won’t be met with a critical eye.
Be specific. You might even include evidence and details that they need to confirm with the story they have bookmarked.
Show genuine enthusiasm. It doesn’t take much to get them excited if you’re authentic.
Encourage them and give an example of something they’ve done that you’re proud of.
Ask what they think.
These notes give us something to talk about at the end of her day that isn’t a shrug or “fine.”
She thought about how to spell popcorn, raspberries, and grandma’s pumpkin bread while I cut shapes out of scrap paper and wrapping paper. After arranging them and gluing them down, I ended up cutting the big paper collage into four smaller pieces. They happened to read as a whole and in smaller parts.
In the time it took her to draw a mat and balance beam, I helped her sound out ‘gymnastics’ and considered what I might include on the backs of each card.
As she finished her paper, she looked up and took interest in what I was creating. But she’ll have to wait until lunchtime to see the final result.
Lunchbox notes are another example of what to write to a child that will spark a conversation and make a personal, meaningful connection.
ps. Which child you know would be overjoyed with a simple hello message from you today?