Sing it on Sunday: In praise of the apology letter

photo credit: Maddy Lou

Dear Mrs. M.,

And so began Sam’s  letter. It was to his kindergarten teacher. He had been disrespectful the note on the edge of his daily “star chart” has said.

Sass? My Sam? The son of a teacher gave sass? Before story or bath Mr. Sassy pants was going to be writing an apology letter.

I’m learning that lectures don’t work.

I’m learning that putting the responsibility on Sam to own his actions, can.

“And only quality work with that lettering young man! Or else you start over,” I said in my most Dickensian voice.

The end result;

I am sorry that I talked back. I love you. You are my favorite teacher. Love, Sam

After I sealed the envelope he drew her a picture. Then Marcel did too. There were lots of hearts involved. We needed a bigger envelope.

Every word his. The spelling his too. The internal reward: his. He was given a chance to recover in her eyes, and mine.

The report home from school that afternoon: Great day. The day after–another note came home that read; Sam has had an incredible week. He has been a role model, and a great listener. Five stars!

What is your experience with the apology letter? Is it something we just make kids do, to avoid feeling like we’re some kind of parenting failure if our kids have sass? Or is it a reflective process, that might lead to some large lifelong learning?


  1. I have had Jupiter do apology letters last year (K) and this year (1st grade) to other children, family members and teachers. When I say the same thing over and over and over she just hears blah blah blah blah and away it goes. The concrete act of writing the letter makes it stick more, and I think its a way to take some responsiblity for choices she has made that hurt others.

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