Saturday, January 19, 2008
Pen Pals for Kids
I never had an official pen pal growing up as a kid but I do remember thinking it would be really exciting! Somehow opening up a letter addressed just to you is one of the most exciting things for children. In fact, opening up a handwritten letter is still a real treat for me at age 26! So let's discuss the benefits and how to go about setting up a pen pal for your child.
There are several benefits of a child having a pen pal. Having a person to write regular letters to will help your child improve their writing skills in a fun way. Even if you are not proof reading their letters, they will still improve by just practicing writing. They will learn how to express their thoughts in written form which is an important skill to learn! You will also be given the opportunity to teach your child about how the post office works, how to address envelopes properly, how to buy stamps, and much more. In the best case scenario your child may form a close friend for life!
Now to the how-to information! If I had a child interested in a pen-pal I would personally find someone they could write to. I'm sure that there are probably several reputable sites online that could assist you in this, but I do not know of any and would use extreme caution for safety purposes. I would be much more comfortable with asking friends or family who live out of state or country if they know a child around the same age who would like a pen pal. After a few requests I'm sure a pen pal will turn up! A pen pal does not have to be a perfect stranger either. Perhaps your child has a cousin or old friend who has moved away. This could be the perfect pen pal for them! Do a little creative thinking and one will turn up. Another option is a far away Grandma or Grandpa. These letters will be cherished for years to come! One more option to consider is joining a sponsor a child program like Compassion International. These programs encourage letter writing and the child you sponsor will write you letters at set times each year.
Once you find an appropriate pen pal I suggest you talk to your child about what they would like to know about their pen pal and help them form some questions to ask in their first letter. Once the letters start being exchanged suggest a few options such as enclosing stickers, a picture, or even mailing a special package for a birthday surprise! You will probably never have to go to the mailbox again because your child will be there before you, waiting for the next letter!