Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Using penfriends as a learning tool


               How having a penfriend can really help a child's language and literacy

It is a part of my childhood that I remember very well......waiting for a letter from my penfriend!! At one point, I had 3 penfriends all at once, and all in all I have had 5!! I used to love receiving a letter through the door, and was lucky enough to have penfriends in different countries....Germany and Australia!!

Having a penfriend is extremely rare these days, especially with the use of the Internet with social network sites and the like connecting people with ease. I feel however, that it is of great importance that the children of today still have the opportunity to connect with others through the form of writing. There is so much that can be learnt from writing to someone else, whether it be how their lives differ from your own, to new words and how letters are structured.

The main things children can gain from a penfriend are:

1. How letters are structured - for example where the address goes, how to start and end a letter etc

2. Practising hand writing and spelling

3. Developing self esteem and pride when a letter arrives for them in reply

4.  Penfriends can help children understand other cultures and languages.

5.  Promotes patience when awaiting a reply

6.  Can lead to firm friendships and meeting in later life. I have reconnected with 2 of my penfriends on facebook!!

7. Helps your child with reading skills.

Although my daughter is still fairly young, I am going to start her with a penfriend by writing letters to a friend of hers who had to move away. I intend to send photographs and pictures she has done at pre -school along with a letter which I will write in my daughters voice, as if it were her. As she gets older, I will encourage her to write some letters herself, and hopefully a great relationship can carry on through the media of letter writing. Here, I must apologise to Jen for not starting it sooner..... I haven't forgotten, honest!!

If you do not know of anyone your child can write to, you can try looking at these websites :

http://www.studentsoftheworld.info/

http://www.ipfworld.com/info.html

https://www.penpalkidsclub.com/

I actually found two of my pen pals through a teen magazine page when I was younger, as we had similar tastes in pop bands!! The longest pen pal relationship I had came from someone I met at an American football game in Brighton many moons ago!! She was a fab penfriend, sending Easter eggs and little gifts every so often!! Thanks Emma!!

So, give it a go...........and if you fancy it, why not try and find a penfriend yourself. Remember children learn best from watching adults!!

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