December is often seen as a time to connect with old friends and faraway family members. It’s cold in many areas of the country, and of course several holidays fall within the course of the month. Did you know that December is designated as Write-a-Friend-a-Letter Month? Since people tend to batten down the hatches and enjoy indoor pleasures during the eleventh month, it’s a great time to have a cup of tea, build a fire in the fireplace or light a scented candle, and touch base with someone non-electronically. It brightens up your day to receive a handwritten letter in your mailbox, doesn’t it? It’s so much nicer than an email, and a pleasant surprise in the sea of bills and junk mail. So this month, gather up your whole family and tell them it’s letter-writing time! Here are some tips:
- Provide the right tools. If you hand your kids number 2 pencils and notebook paper, it will feel like schoolwork. Pick out a few different types of stationery or patterned computer paper. Also, buy a package or two of felt tip or smooth rolling ball pens. My absolute favorite pens are the felt-tip Staetdler, and a great runner up is the Pilot roller ball pens. Both of these are nice and smooth and don’t skip, and the Staetdler pens come in a whole rainbow of colors, besides!
- If your kids are stuck on what to say, ask them to describe an experience that they had recently. It might be a school field trip, an especially memorable meal, a fun day out with the family or even something that they did over the summer.
- Remind your kids to ask a question or two, to encourage an answer!
- Don’t be a stickler for spelling, but do glance over any letter written by child who is still learning to spell. While common spelling errors can be overlooked, it can be difficult for the recipient to decipher completely phonetic spelling. Don’t make kids rewrite the letter, if possible. If the spelling is really unintelligible, ask if you could rewrite the letter on a separate sheet of paper and just attach it.
- If your child isn’t writing comfortably yet, ask her to draw a picture for a friend. Then she can dictate a few sentences for you to write down for her.
- Include photos, stickers or other trinkets. Kids are often more excited to mail (and receive) little treasures than the letter itself!
- Show your child how to address and stamp an envelope. This is great practice for writing out his home address. Remember that neatness counts when addressing an envelope; if your child is too young to write legibly, then do it yourself, but show the child where the return address and recipient address go. Also, let him place the stamp!
- If your child wrote to a friend in another state or country, show her where her letter is going. If she seems interested, find out some fun facts about the area, such as what the weather is like this time of year. You could also use Google Maps to find the recipient’s home!
Letter writing is a skill that will last your child a lifetime. Also, it provides memories and tangible mementos as he looks back as an adult on letters received as a child.
Will you be writing letters to friends this month?