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Promote Reading, Writing, and Patience With an Old Fashioned Penpal

A long-term project like writing to a penpal is a great way to consistently work on reading and writing.
on June 19, 2014

The world is all about right now. My life feels so frantic sometimes, and it's because our society's expectations are all about now, fast, faster, NOW! But most things that are worthwhile take time. Learning to read takes time; learning to write takes time; and sometimes the best way to support literacy development is patiently.

A long-term project like writing to a penpal is a great way to consistently work on reading and writing. Using real paper, stamps, and envelopes, children can work on these skills in a genuine way. They will work on writing and handwriting skills while crafting their letters, read for fun and information while reading the letters their penpals send them, and further develop and deepen a friendship through correspondence.

Here are some tips to make writing to a penpal a breeze:

●    Choose a penpal who is about your child's age with at least some similar interests. Kids need to feel a connection to get the conversation going. If that isn't possible, have your child write letters to family -- the benefit to that is you know Grandma will write back asap!

●    You can go global or local. If your child doesn't have any friends far from home, s/he can always send letters to a buddy across town.

●    If writing letters is too daunting a task, try postcards!

●    Have some fun stationery and stickers on hand.

●    Have your child practice how to address an envelope in pencil before trying it in pen.

●    Use fun stamps. I have Harry Potter stamps that make everyone want to write more letters!

●    A typed letter might be neater, but nothing is more personal and precious than a handwritten one. Encourage your children to hand write their letters by making sure they have good pencils, erasers, and a special place to write them.

Do your children have penpals? Tell us about your experience with them on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page!

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Get the latest advice, tips, and resources on helping your child read at every age and every stage. Each week, find kids' book reviews, ways to extend the reading experience, and tips on how to spark a reader's interests from our expert contributors and editors.

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