I love reading and writing – could never live without a pile of books by my side and a fresh journal somewhere (even during those times when I don’t write in it often). I grew up like this and watch as my kids (7 1/2 and 9) are growing up in the digital age where they know their way around google, microsoft products and my ipad – seemingly with no lengthy instructions.
I work to counter the extra tech time by still focusing on reading books, writing with real pens and communicating by post. This way lives side by side with books on our digital devices, their desire to start their own blogs and occasionally sending email and skype messages to Grandma.
I thought I’d share some of the ways we stay low tech with their communications and pass on my love of a good pen and beautiful paper.
I am American and my husband is English and that impacts on our girls quite often. Earlier this year a childhood friend of mine asked if my girls would like to start writing as pen pals with her daughter who was slightly older and curious about life in Australia. She needed to practice her writing and this would be a good way for her to do so. Sign us up!
Since my 7 year old was a fair bit younger I suggested just the older girls write and instead approached a friend in England. With a daughter who is within 6 months of Lulu’s age we asked if they would like to connect as well.
Now we have letters and photos winging their way back and forth between the States, England and Australia. The girls each have stationery, note cards and full responsibility for writing their letters, asking their pen pals relevant questions, answering the ones they receive and preparing them for the post office (addressing, stamps etc). It takes ages sometimes before they get a reply, but the anticipation is half the fun and quite a counter to the text messaging of their future.
We can’t wait to get to NYC in November as the girls are both excited to connect with Alice’s pen pal (and my childhood friend) who will meet us in NY for a day.
Ideas for you: You could approach people you know who live outside your home area (does not have to be overseas), if you blog you could approach another blogger you have connected with overseas, or you can search online as there are sites set up for this (try to find a snail mail one though like this one as some are simply email based). Let kids pick out stationery and set them up with a little mail centre (address of pen pal, stamps, stickers, and a place to keep their received letters).
Thank you (and other) cards
Thank you cards no longer seem to be the given. We rarely receive them any more and I personally find it a little sad. Even if it takes time and effort I try to keep this practice going with the girls. When they have birthday parties, receive gifts in the mail or through the holiday season I make a list of the gifts and who sent / gave them and then work with the girls to write something to each person. Sometimes it takes two weeks at a pace of 1 or 2 cards at a time, but we check them off as we go and keep plugging away. The girls learn to focus on the gift giver, share what they liked about the gift and express gratitude.
Sometimes over the years they have had a stronger interest in this and took the time to draw pictures or create elaborate cards. Other times lack of time or energy was at play and I drafted a thank you template on the computer and had them write only a little bit. We make it work for us however needed each time.
Ideas for you: Buy blank cards for those kids who like to craft and create – mine spend time doing this for fun and then it comes in handy for them to write randomly to friends and family. You can collect stickers, some craft supplies, even just a stash of envelopes with some paper and leave the rest to them. Turn artworks of theirs into cards and share them with family for special occasions and the holidays.
Journaling (and creative writing)
Fortunately and unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) I have passed on my love of the blank journal. My kids have used them for everything including writing about life, travels, favourite foods, poetry, short stories, lists (oh the lists!), birthday party plans, dreams and more.
My 9 year old has a journal I gave her for her birthday that is for the two of us. She can write to me about anything she needs or wants to share and I can reply or initiate something private via this journal. We have used it to apologize, talk about boys (already!), express our feelings safely and it will grow with us as she needs it to.
Ideas for you: it is never too early to give a child a blank book – before my 7 year old could ever write she joined in with her own. One book she created at 5 years old she simply wrote one letter of the alphabet on each page and then drew pictures of a different food to match the letter. She was “getting” book making and writing though and still loves to do things like this – now often in Word or in PicMonkey alongside her journals.
If a child shows an interest in journaling or story writing but says they don’t know what to write you can give them journal prompts (ideas like “if you could be any animal what would you be?” or “What is your best memory from our holiday?”) or story starters (you can search online for lots of ideas or just give them a topic or first sentence).
Do your kids love to write – what do they love to do – send mail to others or write stories or journals? Do any of your kids have pen pals?
Find your simple,
Image credit: flickr user pascalmaramis