Writing a Formal Letter

Teach your children how to keep in touch the old-fashioned way.

By Neetika Cox
Nov 14, 2012



Writing a Formal Letter

Nov 14, 2012

These days, kids are schooling their parents on the latest technology for communication. One important skill you can impart to your kids is how to write a formal letter.

Why It’s Important

  • Good Manners. It’s never too early to get in the habit of showing appreciation for kind gestures. When someone sends a gift or helps out with homework, encourage your children to communicate their gratefulness in a formal letter. This not only reinforces writing and etiquette skills, but it also helps children nurture positive, long-lasting relationships in their lives.
  • Professionalism. In a sense, children are more competent than ever with correspondence. While shooting off a quick, informal email or text to someone can be convenient, writing a formal letter is an essential skill your children should be equipped with as they grow up and enter the professional realm. Another important concept for your children to understand is that just because they are typing on an electronic device doesn’t mean the writing should be casual.

How to Write a Formal Letter

  • Format. The basics are the same, whether your children are using a word processor or a pen and paper. A formal letter should always include (from the top of the page to the bottom): the date, an appropriate salutation and greeting, the body of the letter, a closing, and a signature. Teach your children salutations and closings to include, such as “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [last name],” “To Whom It May Concern,” “Best Regards,” and “Sincerely.”
  • Writing Skills. Children who use mobile texting to communicate with each other often slack on basic writing skills like grammar, punctuation, spelling, and diction. Writing a formal letter is a unique opportunity for your children to apply their understanding of the English language in real-life situations. Their comfort and ease in using their own words will grow exponentially once they are given a chance to think carefully about what they want to say and how they should say it.
  • Content. When children are first given license to come up with something that is all their own, they may be hesitant to dive in. If your kids get a case of writer’s block, remind them to be patient. Like any original writing, a letter should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. To start, they can explain why they are writing the letter. For example, they can start a letter to a cousin by letting him know that they are writing to wish him luck in his upcoming soccer tournament. The middle of the letter should include more details about that subject. They can say they know how hard he’s been practicing and that he will have a great time playing. In closing, it’s always nice to talk about the future. They can end the letter by saying they look forward to seeing him at an upcoming family gathering. Encourage your children to be creative. When writing to a friend or family member, they may include a drawing or other artwork.
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