Nat brings home countless pages of those alphabet practice worksheets from school. I've nothing against them but for a young child, it can appear boring and meaningless. At first he was quite excited doing the first letter, then after that the interest sort of died. I remember disliking doing those worksheets when I was young too, being a perfectionist in ensuring nice handwriting, my hand ached like mad after writing.
One day, Nat told me that a Post Office was set up in his classroom and it so happened we also started getting him to take the letters from the mailbox. He was looking forward to receive his own letter but of course, all the letters only belonged to mommy and daddy. So I told him that he could write letters to people so that they can reply him with letters too.
With kids, sometimes you really need to prepare a realistic and exciting set up to create interest. The world of pretend play is so powerful for them. Sounds like a lot of prep, but I sort of separated them into stages so I won't kill myself.
Just create a boundary for a simple make believe post office. This helped me assess the level at which Nat's understanding of mail, post office and post man is at. We just pretend play scenes at the Post Office aka using Noe's playpen. Absolute silliness.
We made mailboxes out of recycled biscuit boxes. Nat decorated the mailboxes and stuck on all the names. The box self-adhesive foam alphabets and numbers are really a good buy, I can't seem to use them up at all! And Nat wanted to give out cars to us in the mailboxes that they came crashing down the wall.
Time to start writing those letters! I dug out all my childhood stationery so I didn't have to spend a single cent! It's amazing, I've been keeping them for so long because I can't bear to use them when I bought them and I bought too much that there's so much leftover. Girls just go googoogaga over stationery :) And young children go googoogaga over them too! I put all the items below into a box and told him it's his special letter writing equipment and he was majorly surprised, excited and hooked!
- letter writing pads
- note pads
- colourful envelopes
- colourful marker pens (that don't smudge)
- stickers (to be pretend postage labels)
- kid's stamps (to be pretend stamp by the postman)
We actually started out with just drawing since he doesn't know how to write yet and I wanted him to start understanding why he needs to know how to write his alphabets if he wants to write letters.
I made sure he wrote the names of the whom the letter is for and to sign off his name. And after some practise, he became very good at writing "ASHER", because it's his best friend's name and his own name "NAT". I'm not going to force him to write his full name yet if he doesn't want to because it's supposed to be fun not drills. And then we mailed off the letters!
Preparing letters became an everyday activity for at least 2 weeks! Before school, after school, he will be drawing and writing names. He didn't became a genius at writing his alphabets but at least I thought it was a good preparation and introduction for him to practise those countless alphabet writing worksheets. I also got people to send him letters like his best friend, Asher and his Aunty Sarah. The delight on his face when he receives those letters is really priceless.
Just keep the whole set into a box or ziplog bag, and when the time comes again, take them out and top it up with some new items, and it will be a whole new play and learn activity again!