Though e-mails have taken over as the most popular means of correspondence, the art of writing letters is still important. Handwritten letters still has a value of their own and you must encourage this habit in your kids early on.
You can start off by making the entire process fun with a cute greetings note to some family member on some occasion like birthdays, anniversary, New Year etc. The kids could add some embellishments like confetti, lace, rose petals, their own picture, cartoon stickers, etc to make it attractive. In the process, you could teach them some basic skills like the format, the process of sealing the letter, sticking the stamp and adding the return address before you mail it.
You could set an example even before your kids start to read and write, by involving them when you correspond with relatives. Maybe they could dictate a few words they would want to add when you write to their grandmother. This would generate interest right from the start.
Once they start developing the habit themselves, furnish them with such essentials for writing letters:
- Some fascinating stationery such as preprinted thank-you notes, holiday greetings and multi-colored writing paper with coordinated envelopes for writing letters.
- An attractive and alphabetically ordered address book. For beginners, a large one with lots of space to jot down on will help them manage things better.
- A colorful notebook where kids can make a list of social and family occasions vis-à-vis names of friends and relatives, so that they can remember to post the cards and letters on time.
Once this is done, you can get down to the task of giving them a lesson on the format and tips for writing letters, with the help of a sample of each type. You can divide it into two types:
- Personal / informal letters
- Business / formal letters
These are correspondence with your family and friends. They are conversational and warm and can be either on certain occasions or just for sharing information or keeping in touch with loved ones who are far away.
Some topics you could introduce your kids when they start writing letters are:
- Family occasions like birthdays, anniversaries etc.
- Sharing the experience of a family trip.
- Sharing the news of an achievement such as a great school concert.
- To a friend about a new pet or family member
- Some information about a new computer game, CD or DVD, or even a new gadget like a TV, washing machine etc.
- About a new school you have joined.
- About a school project or excursion.
- About some interesting event like an exhibition or show in your city.
- The experience of reading a book you have loved or an exciting film you have watched.
- Write to a friend to share a secret.
- Just a casual give and take of information and greetings.
This is about writing letters generally for official purposes to someone unknown. For instance, to may have to write to a local authority for some help; to an organization for some information; an official note to clients or a job application etc.
They are written formally and have a set of rules that you must teach your kids:
- Do not forget the date on your letter.
- Always include your return address.
- Address your letter to Dear Sir / Madam if you don’t know whom you are corresponding with and hence don’t know the gender of the person.
- The language must be clear, straightforward and precise.
- Check for spelling mistakes before you seal the letter.
- Finish the letter with a formal acknowledgment like ‘Yours faithfully’ or ‘Yours sincerely’.
- Always keep a copy of the letter with yourself for future reference.
Once your kids have mastered these fundamental details of writing letters, keep the habit alive by keeping in touch with them through letters once they have grown up.