Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Mail

Our family has grown!

In fact it has always been bigger than us, but now we are blessed with the daily presence of our friends.  I'm now providing after school care in our home for three kids who've always been a big part of our family. 

It's a mutually supportive situation, as sometimes Elliot gets lonely in the afternoons.  But sometimes there's also sibling rivalry.  So Elliot and I invented "Happy Mail."

Happy mail is something that each child gets to open at the close of the day, when Mom has arrived to pick up.  If everyone treated each other with kindness and respect, then there will be something inside the mail box.  A pack of gum, trinkets, coupons and "happy notes" are all things one might find.  But if someone forgot to use kindness and respect, at the end of the day, the mail box will be empty.

Today I'm asking for your help to add ideas to what I might put in the happy mail boxes.  The novelty might wear off if I'm not continually original!  

With the extra hours being filled up, there might be a delay in my visits to your wonderful blogs, but please know I still care!

I hope everyone gets "happy mail" today, because blogging friends practice the golden rule more than anyone!


  1. Your post is my happy mail, Jenny! Good morning to you!

    I can foresee a few challenges ahead with your happy mail system. You already touched on one of them. It's the law of diminishing return. If the child always finds the same items in the mailbox at the end of the day then the novelty will soon wear off and there won't be as much incentive to earn the reward. I was going to suggest that instead of generic items you leave a different reward for each child, a customized gift based on what you know about his or her preferences and favorite things. However, I can also see that becoming a problem if a child believes his gift is not as good or special as another child's gift. "At the end of the day" (literally and figuratively) good behavior, kindness and respect of others is its own reward and that should be the lesson learned.

  2. You are so right Shady! My father used a belt as our motivation! So we'll probably have lots of conversations about intrinsic rewards versus some that are handed out.

  3. What a great idea! I love your mailboxes. I am always awed by your creativity, Jenny! The only other thing I can think of right now is something that my students really like. Instead of a reward just for themselves when they do something spectacular, they really like rewards they can gift to someone else. Mine are like, "Go to lunch 5 minutes early with a friend." Or, "Pick someone who needs a pick-me-up today and give them this lollipop", or little things like that. It warms my heart to see how much they enjoy the power of giving something to someone else.

  4. Hi Shelly,
    This is exactly why I posted about this subject. Thank you for the outstanding suggestion! Your idea promotes further good feelings about kindness.

    Ultimately, we all make choices and I don't have control over the things that people do to one another. It won't stop me from encouraging the good.

  5. Jenny, You are such a dear and wonderful teacher/motivator. I do love Shelley's ideas. Maybe to cut down on how many 'things' you have to put in the mailbox, you could start with heart stickers or cut out paper hearts for kindness. If everyone gets say 4 or 5 by the end of the week in their daily mailbox surprise they then get a prize on Friday. Something to work for each day and for the end of the week. There's always they can pick the snack or activity for a day, get to be superstar for a day, etc. I love your idea and see them wanting to come up with some suggestions of their own.

  6. what a great idea! when i taught kindergarten, i used a similar reward system but with pennies. each student had a little bank on their desk and throughout the day/week, i could add to or take from depending on the circumstance. i made sure that each of them got at least 1 penny so they'd each have something at the end of the week. at the end of the week, they got to shop with their pennies - a pencil, stickers, erasers, etc. the students loved it and i was constantly challenged to keep the rewards interesting.

  7. My idea goes along with Shelley's - maybe different coupons, some for specific things like a movie or bowling, a new book, or whatever they like to do, and others for something of their choosing, such as an afternoon with you doing the activity of their choice, or choosing their favorite thing to have for dinner. Simple things that don't cost a lot are best, I think. My kids always looked forward to their afternoon alone with me - just the two of us. Each one got their own day each month and it was always the time when we had the best talks and got to know each other the most. I can't remember specific activities as much as I remember them being so excited to have their day.

  8. I love you happy mail! I try to do ove notes in random places too...i am always looking or ideas as well. When I am stumped I will use jokes...the kids love it!


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