I was raised to hand write thank you notes for my birthday and Christmas gifts, and I'm raising my kids to do the same. I remember it being sheer torture and I gave my mother unending grief about it. My kids don't seem to have the same issues. I tend to think it's because they are home educated and they see "write thank you note" on their assignment sheet and don't think twice about it!
I've gradually increased the amount of original writing for Reece over the years. She started off by tracing "Thank You" and writing her name , then by writing "Thank You" and her name, and finally last year she wrote the "Dear _______", "Thank You", and her name. This year I wanted to see what she could come up with on her own, and boy was I in for a surprise!
The first note she wrote was to my Uncle Bob. She has really taken to him, though she's only ever met him once when she was a baby so she has no memories of him. He sent her a rock this past summer that he found in Oklahoma and she has affectionately named it, "Bob the Rock." He is a retired police officer and detective, as well, and she thinks that is totally cool.
I stayed in the room to help her spell unfamiliar words but I wanted to see what she was going to write. She wrote "Dear Uncle Bob" and "Thank you for the money. I bought ice skates. Love Reece". Then at the end she put "P.S. I hope we can meet together some day." I prompted her to add commas after the greeting and salutation, but that was as much help as I gave. (BTW, he was very touched by her letter, as you can imagine).
Over the next several days she wrote other letters like this. She remembered to include the commas in the rest of the letters. PLUS, one day she wrote that she was going to buy "art supplies, candy, and Coke." At first she had only written, "art supplies and candy" but she decided to add the "Coke" because she thought it would be funny. So she paused and said, "I need to erase that 'and' and put one of those little periods with the tail (comma), and THEN put a another one of those little periods with a tail (comma), and THEN put the and before I write "Coke". Yes!!! You sure do!! Isn't that cool??
Then on another letter, she wrote that she was going to buy a "maxi dress". She added, in parentheses, (a maxi dress is a dress that goes all the way down to your ankles). She wasn't sure that Great Grandpa would know what a maxi dress was - and she was correct! Plus, she used parentheses!!!
She has not yet had formal writing lessons as we would typically think of it. Yet, she has done writing - through extensive copywork, and we are just starting some studied dictation (but not very much yet). But through our copywork, we have discussed using commas in a series, and using parentheses, and so on. And now, through writing thank you notes - a real life use for writing - she has learned that we need to put a comma (period with a tail LOL) after the greeting and closing!
It was thrilling to experience!