Post-Christmas bribery sees many a parent nagging their brood to put pen to paper and write notes of thanks for presents received from an eclectic mix of relatives and friends. Thx 4 a gr8 gift. With youngsters now communicating via text message and email, is there still educational value in writing good old thank you letters? Though I can’t confess to have been aware of the reasoning behind this at the time, reflection on personal childhood experiences highlights what I believe are important social and practical skills learned.

During the excitement of opening a pile of gifts on Christmas morning, there is nothing like the knowledge that thank you letters lie ahead, to encourage children to read the gift label and remember where each one came from. Encouraging children to gain some sense of the value of the time, thought and cash that has been invested will surely lead to their being more socially conscious adults.

Handwriting a legible, interesting or entertaining letter without the ability to spell-check, Google, copy and paste or delete mistakes practices valuable composition skills which, though still crucial for performance in examinations, some may argue are declining thanks to technology. Creativity and imagination, as well as the occasional and justifiable diplomatic white lie, are essential skills for composing enthusiastic comments about a gift which may not be entirely what was expected or desired.

Creating something tangible that will be treasured, filed-away and re-read by proud parents and grandparents in my view offers the most important lesson of all. Putting time and effort into writing a few carefully chosen words purely because they will make someone else smile.