Addressing envelopes is still important

September 24, 2010|By LISA PREJEAN
  • Lisa Prejean
File Photo,

One of my former students recently returned to school for a visit. It was good to see him and catch up with how things were going.

After we chatted for a while, I asked the typical teacher question:

"So, how could we have prepared you better?"

I thought he would say that we should have pushed him to work harder. After all, that's what all high school graduates think ... after they've left school. Isn't it?

His reply took me by surprise.

"Well, I wish you would have taught us how to address an envelope," he said rather sheepishly.

I said, "Excuse me?"

Did I hear him accurately?

"I just couldn't remember how to address an envelope, and neither could any of the guys I was with. We don't write letters, so we weren't sure how to write the address."


"Well, I guess the last time you had that in school you probably were in third or fourth grade, right?" I asked.


He thought for a minute. "Probably fourth."

That's a long period of time to recall information, particularly in today's culture.

Teenagers don't send letters. They text. They don't pay bills through the mail. If they have bills, they pay them online or in person.

They don't get much practice at addressing envelopes because letter writing is a dying art.

So, this group of guys were at Boot Camp without their cell phones, without Facebook or e-mail and their main contact with the outside world was through snail mail.

Guess what they did? They wrote home. With a little help from each other and from one guy who had envelope addressing instructions taped to his locker, they figured it out.

Along the way to making our young people competitive with the rest of the world, we can forget to teach them about the practical things in life.

We are driven about "important" things, and life is too busy to focus on the mundane.

That's why parents and teachers need to embrace those teachable moments, instructing children as questions arise.

Sometimes my kids forget what goes where on an envelope, but I review the basics each time they write a thank-you note:

The writer's name and address are written in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope.

The name and address of the person receiving the letter are written just below the middle of the envelope and a little left of the center.

The stamp is placed in the upper right-hand corner of the envelope.

Ask your kids if they could send a letter home once they've left your household. If they're not sure, it's time to pull out an envelope and practice.-

Your kids and their friends will thank you one day.

Now we just need to teach them how to balance a checkbook.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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