I love to get cards and letters in the mail, don’t you? There’s just something truly special about a handwritten note that really brightens my day. When we were homeschooling, I wanted my kids to understand and appreciate the value of handwriting, so we wrote letters to family and friends as a regular part of our language arts lessons.
The simple act of writing a letter is so much more than a lesson in handwriting though; there are practical and educational benefits that will serve your kids far into the future. So let’s take a closer look at the ways in which letter writing can benefit your kids.
Stimulates the Brain
Writing a simple friendly letter might seem simple but the process actually activates more regions of your child’s brain than when typing on a keyboard. Karin James, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University, discovered that when children write by hand, the process activates the regions in the brain responsible for reading, language, and memory. When these regions are all working at the same time, learning is boosted.
Engages the Body
Children use fine motor skills to grasp and control the pencil. The larger muscles in the neck, shoulders, torso, hips, and legs as well as the foot muscles work together to help keep the body in a stable position.
Kids also need excellent hearing so they can sound out letters and words, and strong hand-eye coordination to form the letters correctly and legibly.
Enhances Communication and Literacy Skills
Letter writing is a slow, thoughtful process that allows kids ample time to contemplate what they want to say and how best to organize those thoughts into words that flow smoothly and make sense.
Knowing that their letters will be viewed by someone special, kids are naturally more aware of appearance; they pay extra attention to spelling and punctuation, and work out proper grammar and mechanics as they write. And, as your kids continue to write and receive letters, they will become more and more competent and confident and, as a result, they will want to explore new and bigger words, build more complex sentences, and add more details.
Writing letters is also a wonderful summer enrichment activity that will help to keep the language arts concepts learned throughout the year fresh in your kids’ minds.
Writing a letter is an adventure in creativity. Children have limitless freedom to express themselves, and it’s truly an opportunity to let their personalities shine. Encourage your kids to try writing in italics or adding artistic details to individual letters and words, such as little red hearts or colorful butterflies to dot each “i.”
Strengthens Relationships and Social Skills
There’s beauty in a handwritten letter because it’s personal and meaningful. And because it takes time, effort, and great care for your child to pen a note to someone special, it’s a way for kids to nourish relationships and to practice and express gratitude.
Helps Develop Mindfulness
When kids sit down to write a letter to someone, it’s an exercise in mindfulness. Kids need to push away all distractions and focus on the person to whom they’re writing. This takes patience and practice but, once mastered, is an essential skill your kids will need for accomplishing many things in life.
There’s also a rhythm when writing by hand, and this, combined with the repeated motions of the hands and fingers as they form letters and words, really draws the writer into the moment.
Enhances the Study of Different Subjects
Ask any homeschool mom and she’ll tell you she’s thankful for any chance she gets to combine multiple subjects into one lesson. This is letter writing at its best. Depending upon whom your child is writing to, he might want to describe his science fair project that won the blue ribbon, she may be excited to share the historical fiction series she can’t put down, or your teen could recount why he feels his side of the debate was valid and should have won the match.
Suppose your child is writing to a pen pal, a relative in the armed forces, or a grandparent who lives in another country; geography and culture will no doubt play a role as your child describes his or her lifestyle and responds to questions.
Letter writing is great fun. Your kids will be over the moon, giddy with glee, when they discover a letter in the mailbox addressed to them. They might just rush up to their bedroom and start writing a reply. Talk about motivation!