Do you have a box of letters you treasure?
I do. It is a wooden box tucked away in my closet with precious words from family, friends, and many who have been important to me over the years.
I treasure these letters. The wisdom, love, and memories contained in each of them is a gift to me.
What makes a handwritten letter so special?
Lots of things.... the time spent writing the letter, the treasure of someone's handwriting who is important to you, the actual information in the letter, and simply knowing someone cared enough to write to you.
In our age of fast-paced communication and busy-ness, that art of simply sitting, sharing, and CARING has been lost.
Through fostering the lost of art of letter writing in our children, we have an opportunity to restore a degree of humanity to our world.
Five Ways to Inspire Letter Writing in Children
1. Ask older family members to write to your children
The "Greatest Generation" is slowly slipping away. These older people have so much to offer our children.
Your children's grandparents and great-grandparents have so many stories to tell, and so much wisdom to impart. Many times all you have to do is simply ASK THEM to share it with your children.
Ask an older family member to write your child a letter. Specifically, have this family member request a RESPONSE from the child (nothing like a little guilt, right?!?).
You would be AMAZED at what our children will do when an older person asks them - when they know it's particularly important to a grandparent or great-grandparent.
2. Foster a relationship with an older person in your church/community
We've come to know a kind older woman in church who has a spectacular life story. We would have NEVER known this had we not taken the time to get to know her.
One particular Sunday we asked her to go out to lunch with us after church. From that day on she has been writing my daughter letters. These letters are filled with encouragement, compliments, advice, and scripture.
After my daughter sent the first one in return, our sweet friend just GUSHED about how much she loved receiving handwritten letters. Now the letters are a regular occurrence.
The results are two-fold: these two letter writers now feel valued, appreciated, and useful; and I've seen my daughter SLOW DOWN and take time to write to her friend about deep things in her life.
I purchased Always First Class: The Art of Personal Letters, to help my daughter come up with ideas and inspiration for her letter writing.
3. Form a letter writing group
A sweet mom in our homeschool group began a creative worship arts Bible study with our high school girls this year. (She took her inspiration from the book GraceLaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart.)
They have done many things, but the best have been hand lettering, calligraphy - and LETTER WRITING.
She provided the girls with basic lettering instructions, pretty stationary, and everyone's address in the group. Then, she challenged them to write letters to each other over the Christmas holidays and gave prizes based on who had written the most letters.
What fun it was to see letters in the mailbox from my daughter's friends - addressed with beautiful handwriting, and containing heartfelt messages.
I'm so grateful to this mom for teaching the girls to SLOW DOWN, appreciate things of beauty, CREATE things of beauty, and then share those gifts with others.
A handwritten letter is a thing of beauty our children can share with someone else!
4. Find a pen pal
For our younger children, finding a pen pal can be a GREAT way to practice letter writing.
It can be as simple as going to one of your favorite groups on Facebook (I happen to like Equipping Homegrown Learners!) and inquiring if anyone's child would like to be a pen pal with yours.
If you're looking for others ways to find pen pals, this article about How to Find a Pen Pal for Your Child is super helpful.
Many of the books listed at the end of this post are also helpful to inspire your children when writing their pen pals.
5. Model letter writing
Mamas, so much of what we desire for our children can first be modeled!
Do you take the time to write letters? Do you require your children to write thank you letters when they receive a gift, or after they have attended a party at someone's home? Do YOU write thank you letters alongside of them?
Keep a supply of pretty stationery and writing supplies on hand and use them - invite your child to sit with you and use them, too.