I remember the days of lying on my bunk bed at sleep away camp, writing letters to my parents and friends. My bed strewn with the girly stationary and colored pens my mother bought me every summer.  

Now my bed would have an ipad and I would be texting my parents and making imovies on my computer. I think I prefer the way I grew up. Let’s bring it back to the days of flower stationary and green pens, shall we?

Whatever your child’s summer plans involve, incorporate writing by having them select a pen pal. It can be a friend from school, a family member or someone who recently moved away. Start the activity by writing or drawing to this person with some fun news from their first few days of summer vacation. Maybe they started attending a new camp and want to share details of the kids in the group. Maybe they are allowed to swim in the deep end of the pool for the first time. Maybe they discovered they like a new flavor of ice cream. Whatever the sentiments are, they can be recorded on paper through words and/or pictures and mailed to their new pen pal.

You might be reading this and think your child is too young or your child will not be interested. Not the case. Any child can draw a picture, scribble a few lines or write a story on paper. It is all considered writing. It is all communication. It may look different at age 2 than at age 5 but it is the beginning of their exposure to communication and more importantly, letter writing. Most importantly, it is being practiced in a no pressure, engaging way.  I promise that when that first response arrives with his or her name on the front of the letter, they will not be able to contain their excitement.

Of course this does not replace talking in person or phone conversations but how wonderful to hear your child say to a cousin or grandparent, “did you get my latest letter” or “what did you think of my drawing of me jumping into the pool”. As the letters arrive back and forth, your child and their pen pal will create a relationship and it will grow. He or she may become closer with a family member or friend through this form of communication. It can help a child share thoughts or fears and motivate a child who has difficulty writing in school feel more comfortable with the process. It can help new writers practice the alphabet or perfect a picture of a ball. The possibilities are endless.

If your child is old enough, take a look at the Flat Stanley book series by Jeff Brown. It is based on a child who is flattened by a bulletin board and mailed across the country. There is a worldwide interactive project called The Flat Stanley Project which aims to connect children around the world through writing. Consider introducing your child to this project and having them mail a Flat Stanley to his or her pen pal … it is perfect way to start the summer and bring writing to life.

Happy writing!

Related posts:

  1. Poetry for Kids
  2. Being vs Doing: Sensing Yourself So You Can Better Sense Your Child

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