Letter writing is a wonderful skill to master – especially when it’s hand-written, which shows you care and that you are happy to dedicate the time and personal attention to the recipient.
There is something very special about writing or receiving a letter. In today’s fast-paced world of email and text-messaging, the time it takes to write a letter, seal, address, and stamp the envelope, and take it to the post box to send across the state, the country, or the world feels somehow sacred, and is very satisfying.
But aside from the acquisition of a useful skill, letter writing can play an important role in your child’s reading development. Here’s why:
- Learning the art of letter writing from a young age will prepare your child well for the communication skills they will need in their adult life. Once they understand how to craft that most personal of communications, thinking carefully about what they want to say, and how they want the recipient to feel, will be an invaluable skill that will set them apart from their peers.
- Putting pen to paper to communicate directly with another person, teaches children how to express their thoughts and feelings more clearly. Unlike sending a short email, your child needs to focus, and give the matter their undivided attention.
- Writing letters makes your child think about the things they want to say, and to order those things in a logical manner. This really stimulates their creativity and helps them to find ways of getting a point across succinctly. The more your child practises letter writing, the more their critical thinking and problem-solving skills will improve.
- All good writing requires a structure to be able to engage and inform the reader, and letters generally have their own particular, natural order and structure: a greeting, an introduction to the topic of the letter, often an update of the writer’s recent events, possibly followed by questions asked of the recipient. Topics the writer wants to communicate can then be written in order of importance, before closing with a summary, and good wishes.
- Because writing letters to friends and relatives becomes something your child comes to enjoy, this will naturally influence and improve their writing at school and will build their confidence.
- Writing is very therapeutic and can be a wonderful way for your child to express him/herself and capture their thoughts and feelings. It helps to clarify ideas and even to get problems off their chest. You may find your child is happy to write letters to an imaginary person or begin keeping a diary that helps them articulate their private thoughts.
- Taking the time to write traditional thank you letters to friends and relatives for their kind birthday or Christmas gifts is a wonderful way of reminding your child how many things they have to be grateful for. You might even encourage your child to write a letter to his or her pet, sibling or teacher to thank them for all the things they do to help them and bring them joy.
- Writing regularly helps your child to retain information, improves penmanship, and strengthens language skills. Combined with regular reading, this will boost your child’s performance at school across the board. Getting your child used to taking notes in lessons will also aid his or her retention of information and ability to perform better during tests.
The key to success in this endeavour is to start with short letters, or to begin writing their personal thoughts in a journal or diary. If your child is young, you can start with small hand-written notes, and progress to letter writing over time.
Encouraging your child to write often and write freely, will flourish into a love of literacy and is a gift that will reward them time and again through their whole life.
For more ideas of how to develop your child’s love of literacy, read our article on the subject…