Letter Writing By Children: A Dying Art?

Filed in Blog Posts by on 04/01/2017 0 Comments

The Sad Loss of the Written LetterApril is National Card and Letter Writing Month.

Letter writing is a nearly extinct art, a relic of the past slow moving, technologically unconnected world.  Are hand written notes disappearing from our doorsteps, much like the long forgotten milkman or maybe even your mailman?

Do you remember the joy of receiving a letter from a friend, relative or pen pal; writing back and then waiting patiently for a response? Opening up the mailbox and receiving a hand written letter is a joy which only past generations of children may know. Letters of friendship from overseas or notes from grandparents expressing their love. Notes which can, and would be kept and cherished, found in later days as a reminder of a magical childhood moment. Young people are missing out on the pleasures and developmental benefits of letter writing.  Did you know that approximately 43% of children between 7 and 14 have never received a hand-written letter? How many of the emails you receive do you keep and cherish?

World Vision carried out a survey for National Letter Writing day in 2010 and found that half of 11 year olds were unsure how to structure a letter.  A third of 14 year olds weren’t that sure either. As six years have passed since that survey was carried out and with reliance on social media and texting bigger than ever, these statistics can only have worsened or at the very best remained static.

Are handwritten letters a thing of the past? Why does it even matter you may ask. Letters have been replaced with much more convenient and quicker forms of communication; emails, social media messaging and text messages. The world is hyper-connected.

Writing and literacy as a whole is hugely important (literacy itself is a hallmark of human civilization) and it’s something that we start working on with our children before they are even out of preschool. Punctuation, sentence structure and attention to spelling is being abandoned by teenagers as emails and text messages take over.

However, no creation of modern technology can replace the warmth and sincerity of a handwritten letter. The writer shows their investment of time and effort in the upkeep of a relationship. For children, putting a pencil to paper and choosing the right word to convey their message, with careful attention to punctuation and spelling, is a painstaking task. It’s a task that requires real concentration, attention to detail and energy. A much harder task than hitting keys on a keyboard.

As ever it’s important for us as parents to model by example and to encourage our children to learn this art form.  Even if it’s just good old fashioned thank you cards or a letter to Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. It’s an opportunity to teach our kids how to think about the feelings of others, to practice empathy, build relationships and understand the importance of being thankful and appreciative of others.

So I challenge you to pick up a pen and paper and to get that ink flowing! Surprise someone with a letter or a card from you or your child and let’s spread some of that joy.

 

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