So, you have made a list of possible toys and things your child wants Santa to bring. It’s time to write that letter and mail it off! But, before you do that- does your child know who Santa is? Has school been talking about Santa? What about at home? If you haven’t been talking the big man up…it’s time to start now. Watch movies about Santa, play games on the computer, ipad, etc. that introduce Santa, sing songs about Santa, and anything else that helps your child begin to understand that Santa is the guy that brings presents on Christmas.
There are lots of different writing needs among children with disabilities and how you choose to write your letter should be decided before you start. Choose the letter writing technique that will make your child work a little, but not frustrate him/her. This should be a fun experience, without tears or meltdowns. You may choose to let the letter to Santa take a few days or maybe even a week. Some kids do not have a long attention span and it is almost torture to try and do everything in one day…so spread it out to meet the needs of your child.
Some of the different writing techniques you may choose include:
Having an adult write some of the parts and let the child “fill in” other parts with pictures or words (leave plenty of room)
Make a “rough draft” and then allow your child to write or type the letter by themselves.
Allow your child to cut/paste or write prepared sentences into the letter.
Allow your child to form their own letter after looking at sample letters.
If you are uncertain which approach to take, talk to your child’s teacher and/or therapists. See how he/she usually writes or types at school and whether they use all capital letters or a mix of capital and lowercase letters.
So what should go in the letter? I like to use the traditional sentences you would usually see in a letter to Santa, such as “I have been good/bad this year. I will leave cookies and milk for you.” along with important information such as name and age and what you want for Christmas. Here is a letter from a few years ago:
With this child, I used picture choices throughout the letter not only to allow choice, but to also ease the frustration of writing a letter. You can have sentences written on strips that the student could copy or you can also let your child/student sound out words. This is very specific to the needs of the child you are working with. As he wrote each sentence, he would choose the picture he wanted and glue it on. If he chose the wrong age, I would correct him and allow him to get the correct age. However, I allowed each child to select if they had been “good” or “bad.” Since being good or bad is more abstract, it is okay to let them choose whichever they like. Then, we talked about leaving milk and cookies out for Santa. Next, allow your child/student to choose the toys he/she wants for Christmas. Lastly, have him or her sign their name in whatever manner works. You may want to make a copy of the letter to keep before mailing it to the North Pole. Decorate your envelope and make a special trip to the post office to mail your letter to Santa.
As I mentioned earlier, part of the magic of writing a letter to Santa and understanding about Santa bringing presents is to make sure you talk to your child/student about it. Remind them that Santa brings gifts to good boys and girls. Reading books and watching movies about Santa may help too. Even on Christmas day, remind your child which gifts are from Santa. Each year, you will enjoy seeing your child’s understanding—and lists grow!