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Kids World

Topics of interest to teachers of English as a second or foreign language to young learners.

November 15, 2003

Writing to Your Students

I write to my students a lot.

Kids I write notes on the pages of their homework notebooks. For new students, I write, "Welcome to our class." Other general phrases I write to students, depending on the time and the situation, are: Happy Spring, Happy Fall, Happy Winter, Happy Summer, Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Halloween, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Great homework, You are a good student, You look nice today, Thank you for always helping me, Do you like English?, etc.

I like to think that when students read my words in their notebooks at home, there is an element of surprise and wonder that I took the time to write to them. Hopefully this gives them a sense of worth. In addition, I think it is admirable that they can understand me through the English written word. And, of course, there is the subtle intimacy of having a correspondence relationship with me, even if it is rather one-sided.

I also send postcards. When students come to observe a class at our school, I write a postcard encouraging them to join the school. I also write to them when they are sick or in the hospital. If a student accomplishes something of merit, I send a postcard to congratulate him/her. Graduations from kindergarten, elementary school, junior high and high school deserve a postcard from me as do participation in piano recitals, speech contests, sports events, etc.

When my adolescent students pass or fail entrance examinations, I write a letter to express my sentiments depending on the occasion.

In addition, while studying English (or any subject for that matter), it is natural for students to go into a slump at some point; when this happens, and if I am aware of it, I try to write some words of encouragement.

I also write thank you notes for little presents like muffins, cookies, beaded rings, sketches, origami or Christmas presents. I want these precious people to know I appreciate their acts of kindness.

Best of all is when students write back to me! I sometimes get letters, cards or notes for special holidays or occasions. Yes, there are lots of misspellings and grammar errors, but I am always moved by their effort to connect with me through the written word. I have a special manila folder filled with letters from my students from many years ago to the present. I like to look through them every once in a while. Reading them always triggers nostalgia.

It may seem that I spend a lot of time writing, but actually I do not. It just takes a few minutes a week to dash off a few easy-to-understand sentences via cards or notes. The written word lasts a long time and tends to cement relationships in that the students really believe I care about them.

I encourage you to think about connecting with your students in this warm, old-fashioned way.

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