Letter writing for kids has so many benefits, but it can also be super fun! Help your child learn this valuable skill in an enjoyable way.
Does your child like to write letters? As we’ve moved further away from my family, my kids have been practicing writing lots of letters this year. It’s become one of their favorite things to do!
Letter writing isn’t just for fun though. It has a lot of benefits for your child, including:
- Fine Motor Skils: Any time you can get your child willingly writing, it’s a great opportunity for fine motor development. My children are also big on decorating their cards and letters which can include a variety of fine motor opportunities as well.
- Connecting with Family: We’ve moved further away from my family and, unfortunately, my son does not enjoy talking on the phone. Writing letters has become a great way to stay connected with family and friends when we often go months without seeing them!
- Life Skills for Kids: Known as “practical life” in Montessori, encouraging kids to learn real life tasks like addressing an envelope or mailing a letter at the post office helps them build confidence and feel like a member of the community. So often today, we’re too busy with the demands of day-to-day life to include our kids in these tasks but we don’t want to raise a generation who doesn’t know how to fold laundry, pay for something at the grocery store or, in this case, write a letter.
- Grace and Courtesy: “Grace and Courtesy” is how Montessori refers to teaching children how to interact with others in a kind and respectful way, how to be a good citizen. Letter writing is a great way to teach kids how to address different people, how to say thank you (even for a gift that wasn’t their favorite!) and how to end a letter.
Think your child isn’t old enough to write letters? We’ve been doing it since my son was a toddler, but the process has of course evolved over time. In the step-by-step instructions for letter writing for kids below, I include ways to adapt for younger kids!
Letter Writing for Kids: Step-by-Step Instructions
Here’s what we do when we write letters. You can of course adapt to meet your own needs!
1. Look at a Sample
You don’t need to do this every time, but the first time you show your child how to write a letter, it helps to look at a sample. You can write one ahead of time and go through the different elements with your child.
2. Gather Supplies
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Paper or stationery
- Stamps (Depending on the age of your child, you may want to store these separately so they don’t get carried away and use them for stickers 😉
- Sample Phrases: This is optional, but I like to include pre-written words and phrases like “thank you,” “sincerely,” Dear Grandma,” etc. This way the child can copy these words that they may not be able to spell on their own yet. Writing them for the child to copy lets them complete the task more independently than if they have to come ask you how to spell.
- Written Address: You can either include return address stickers, a return address stamp, or your address written on a small piece of paper for your child to copy onto the envelop if they’re writing.
You can keep this as simple as you like but, if you envision making letter writing a regular part of your routine with your child, it can be fun to invest in some fun stationery!
Honestly, we normally just use plain paper and then my children decorate it. I do think these stationery options look really fun though:
- : Because of the small writing space, these would be best either for older kids or for young children to dictate a message for you to write.
- : Etsy has so many cute options and this one looks great! I love the templates to help give kids ideas for what to write.
- : These are just plain adorable!
3. Think About Your Message
Depending on the purpose of the letter, help your child think through what they want to say.
If it’s just a general “hello” letter, explain that they can start by talking about what’s been going on with their life, before asking questions about the recipient’s life.
If it’s a thank you note, help them articulate what they appreciate about the gift.
If it’s a “get well soon” letter, help them think of cheerful, encouraging messages to write.
4. Write (or Dictate!) Your Letter
Now it’s time to actually write the letter!
For toddlers and pre-writers, ask them to tell you what they want to write. There’s tremendous value for children in seeing adults write.
If your child is just learning to write, they can write some of the words and you can write some. For example, when my five-year-old wrote thank you letters for his birthday gifts, he wrote “Thank you!” and he signed his name at the end, but he dictated the body of the letter to me. As your child grows, they’ll be able to write more and more of the message themselves.
5. Address the Envelope
Show your child the elements of an address. This is a great chance to remind them of their own address if they’re still learning it!
You of course want to make sure the address is clearly legible on the envelope so the letter can actually be delivered. One option is to have your child write the return address, but you write the recipient’s address yourself.
Whether or not your child physically writes the address, this is a great chance to discuss why we have addresses, what a zip code is, etc.
6. Go to the Post Office to Mail
You don’t have to physically go to the post office every time but, if you can, I highly recommend occasionally bringing your child to the post office in person.
Young children love this type of errand because it provides an opportunity to learn about the world and meet people in the community.
Chances to Practice Letter Writing:
You can write a letter anytime – it’s a great rainy day activity!
If you need a bit of inspiration though, here are a few particularly nice times to break out the stationery:
- Valentine’s Day – write a love note!
- Birthdays – Handwritten birthday cards for grandparents or friends are so meaningful.
- Thanksgiving – Help your child write a thank you card for whoever hosted you OR help your child write a letter to a loved one telling them why they’re thankful for them.
- Thank You Notes – This is the time we most consistently write letters together. It’s a great chance to practice letter writing, but also to talk about how to graciously accept a gift…whether it was their favorite or not!
Do you have any memories of writing or receiving letters as a child? I had an ongoing letter-writing relationship with my grandfather and it really helped us form a special bond even though he lived far away.
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