Technology is used a lot in our home and I’m fine with that but some tech-free skills are also important to learn. To ensure my kids keep their hand in writing we started a weekly letter-writing project at home.

Skyping grandma and texting friends can create an instant connection, like having a conversation with the person right in front of you, but it’s not the same as writing and receiving a letter. Each week the kids would choose a new person to write to. Sometimes it was grandma or one of the cousins, other times it was a friend from school.

A letter is one-sided, at first. This took a new way of thinking for the kids, imagining a conversation that was delayed. They were slow to start their letters and sometimes I had to give them some thought starts:

  • Share a book or movie (or in my son’s case a video game) that they really enjoyed recently
  • Talk about what they had been up to at summer camp
  • Divulge their future vacation plans

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Like any conversation, it occurs between two people. Although the kids were writing and talking about themselves I reminded them to involve the letter recipient by asking a few questions. This would hopefully encourage the letter reader to reply, giving them some thought starts for their return letter. You may need to remind the kids to scatter the questions throughout the letter versus adding them in one chunk.

Have you seen any new movies? Was it a good movie? Did you see it on vacation? Are you going on vacation? Where are you going on vacation? Will you be by the water? Do you like swimming? Have you don’t any swimming this summer?

No one wants to feel as though they’re part of an inquisition.

With a few thought starters in their mind the kids found their flow and wrote a few pages. My youngest loved using her new Learner Ball Pen Twist System from Bic Kids. The pen was designed by experts specifically for kids. The built-in guide ensured she was holding her pen correctly. Plus it is refillable which means one less pen being tossed when out of ink. BIC Kids has a whole line of Learner writing tools, including graphite pencils and mechanical pencils. I can see these coming in handy for school and beyond.

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Along with writing the content, our letter-writing project also helped reinforce with the kids how to write a letter (the date, greeting, body, signature). We even talked about addressing an envelope (return address, recipients address, stamp placement). It may seem commonplace as we’ve grown-up with letter writing as part of our lives, at least our younger lives, but for this hi-tech generation learning some of these simple low-tech skills is still needed.

Letters written we took a trip to our post office to pick out fun stamps. Why settle for mainstream stamps when the post office releases so many special edition stamps. When I was younger I wrote to friends overseas and loved the variety of stamps that arrived on their letters.

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So far the kids love our letter-writing project, writing to new people on their list and eagerly awaiting a reply. I know I started this project as a way to explore communicating with people beyond a keyboard but I’m hoping they will fall in love with the pen to paper process and keep this up as they get older, finding new friends to write to.