“We’ve got mail!” My 3 year old shouts with delight. So loud in fact I’m sure the whole neighbourhood is aware that the postman has come up with the goods. From an early age, all 3 of my kids have loved checking the mailbox, greeting the postie and posting letters and parcels. They can spot Australia’s iconic red letterboxes from a mile away. So could a wooden kids letter box become an important learning tool in a world where emails, blogging and social media consume so much of our lives? We think so. Here’s why…
The kids letter box caters for several ages-
Babies and Toddlers
Through the posting experience, babies and toddlers are practising hand-eye coordination, developing fine-motor skills and exploring object permanence; that is having the understanding that an object still exists even when it cannot be seen.
Occupational Therapist Nicole Grant suggests that one of that most important aspects of growth is that of one’s sensory system. She believes that good quality wooden toys are ideal choices for sensory processing, which is necessary for mastering concentration, coordination and balance. When children are constantly interacting and touching the kids letter box, sliding their hands along the beautiful grain they are in turn improving their sensory systems.
Pre-schoolers and Primary schoolers
Children in this age group have the most amazing imaginations and the kids letterbox can facilitate creative play, early mathematics and literacy.
Even before children begin to learn to read they are developing reading skills by listening to sentence structure, analysing pictures and tuning into sounds. By reading mail to little ones, you are able to help instil a love for reading and develop an awareness of features of a letter, parcel or postcard. As children grow as readers they begin to identify letters and their sounds, high frequency words, discuss the messages, learn new vocabulary and information from others. Motivation to read is high as the natural curiosity to find out what information the letter contains is exciting.
Many kids struggle with writing, simply because they have no purpose or inspiration to do so. Our kids letterbox toys provide an authentic reason to put pen to paper, making letter formation and spelling a wonderful natural process, reducing the anxiety that often surrounds writing.
Children learn a range of features of letters, for instance, opening phrases such as ‘To’, ‘Dear’ or ‘To Whom This May Concern’, closing phrases such as ‘From’, ‘Love’, ‘Kind regards’ and ‘Yours Sincerely’ and the placement of both the sender and recipients addresses. They explore question structure and comprehension when responding to questions- all without having to frantically search for letters on a keyboard (which let’s face it, is a skill in itself).
The opportunity for pretend play is endless. Why not send a postcard to Jupina, the 5 leg ged alien from the planet Zorp, or a letter to Jumpy Tomika the Red kangaroo who you met last year on holidays in Mildura. Perhaps mum or dad could be sent a bill for 4 kisses and 1 giant hug for ‘We Love You Day’. There is no right or wrong with letter writing, so your child can feel free to invent as much as his/her heart desires.
Assisting with loss or anxiety-
Some times it is difficult to express how you are feeling and it is easier to do so via a picture or letter. Our kids letterbox can be used as a gateway to release big emotions which may included communicating with a pet or loved one who has passed or discussing bullying or nervousness about starting school or pre-school. A child who is struggling with a parent being away for work may wake up to a special letter to assist with separation issues. A child who is at pre-school or school may be missing home and can write a letter to a family member to put in the post box when he/she arrives home, providing a subtle yet reasurring reminder that the your loved one will see you again shortly.
Building bonds through communication
Whether it be between student and student, teacher and student, friends or family members, sending and receiving letters is an uplifting experience. Using this medium, friendships are cultivated and people feel seen, loved and valued. Even as a teenager or adult these act of kindness are a beautiful surprise and are touching. I remember receiving a bundle of letters at my year 12 retreat from the people who had inspired me the most during my life. I still have them and the moment will stay with me forever.
Can’t we do this process the real life way? Yes of course but kids will be so enthusiastic that they will be wanting to send tons of messages to special people in their lives. Imagine having to purchase a stamp for every note. It would get expensive very quickly. A lot of the time it is also not practical or instant, especially in the case of a classroom setting. Having access to a computer and all the complexities that come with it to use it can be overwhelming and frustrating. To top it all off, who doesn’t love playing postie?
So does a kids letter box have a place in a digital world? Most certainly.
Do you have any great ideas about how to employ your kids letterbox at home or school? We would love to hear them.