Why having a Pen Pal is Beneficial for Children
Having a pen pal helps promote many key developmental skills. Sure we can hop online any time and be in contact with someone from the other side of the world, but having a snail mail pen pal has it's perks too!
The most obvious skills practiced with sending and receiving letters in the mail are reading and writing. This is a great opportunity to focus on practicing punctuation, capitalization, and long hand writing as in not short cutting phrases like "that was funny" into "LOL." I'm sure any child would choose writing a peer over writing a boring essay! A pen pal is a great way to sneak in "work."
Perspective taking is another great benefit that having a pen pal encourage children tend to like talking about themselves, and themselves only. Writing their peers invites them to ask questions and think outside of themselves, in order to receive a response back. This is especially true if their pen pal has different living circumstances or cultural values than their own.
There is nothing more gratifying in receiving a hand written letter via snail mail, personalized for you. The pen pal concept is great for developing patience while they are waiting for their return letter, a worth while reward! They can also experience the delight of anticipation
Having a pen pal can help foster an interest in social studies. Depending on where your pen pal lives, the connection can spark an interest in different geographical regions and current events. It can help world events feel less foreign and make a personal connection that would encourage learning outside of their own local happenings.
Lastly, pen pals help with social skills! Many children struggle with deep conversation. As they are exploring how to communicate, writing their peers allows them to be able to stop and think for the right words, as well as finding topics to write about to keep things interesting. They are able to express feelings of empathy and mutual concern, and it also creates the opportunity to find a common bond by having a deeper conversation than they would on the playground.
Where can you find a Pen Pal?
For Children, I suggest using your own personal Facebook to post in groups you are comfortable in. I recommend asking in homeschooling groups, or mom groups that you would be comfortable sharing your address with. I suggest exchanging information via private message or email so it isn't posted for others to see and share. There are pen pal sites you can sign up with, however I have never used one personally. You can also look on platforms such as instagram for hashtags like #seekingpenpal, again I can't personally vouch for safety or guarantee a good match.
A Writing Checklist:
What should they write?
Here are some great writing prompts and free printables for children to write their pen pals! Click the pictures for the direct links!