Today, young people spend most of their time typing out words on electronic devices, whether it’s on a computer or a mobile phone. However, once a year there comes an opportunity to put all that aside and embrace old-fashioned handwriting once more: Universal Letter Writing Week. It’s unclear when or where this tradition first started. For many years it has been celebrated during the second week in January, all across the globe. Even though that time window has passed, it’s not too late to participate today. The purpose of Universal Letter Writing Week is to encourage people to handwrite letters and send them to their loved ones. Writing rewards children with many benefits, especially the younger members of the family.
Before we dive into those benefits, it’s worthy to note that Universal Letter Writing Week is of particular relevance in 2021, after a year spent mostly in quarantine, isolated from each other. Research shows that humans require a minimum of five to six hours of daily social interaction for prime mental and emotional health. Unfortunately, that is something that most do without. Universal Letter Writing Week is the perfect time to re-establish our connections to others. This will remind our close friends and family that we still care about them. More so than a text or email, handwritten letters are personal and full of caring, making them memorable to the recipient.
However, even before COVID-19 limited social interactions, there were already plenty of other reasons to encourage your child to handwrite letters. Some of the benefits that are gained throughout the letter-writing process include:
Computer technology is an excellent resource that we rely on daily. However, in some ways, its existence prevents us from developing certain skills. In an era of spellcheck, students spend less time learning how to spell their words or structure sentences on their own. Writing a letter by hand is a great way to practice those skills.
Encouraging Thoughtfulness and Empathy
When writing a letter, it’s important to focus on who it is for. Your child will think about what kind of content the recipient would like to see. What they write to their best friend will be totally different from the one they write to their teacher or grandparents. Asking a child to write letters to a few different people challenges them to think about this. Therefore this becomes an incredibly useful life skill children can carry with them through adulthood.
The accomplishment of finishing a project is always something to be proud of. The journey is important too. Take the opportunity to help your child outline their letter first. Go through the process of making corrections until it is ready to be sent. Don’t be too overly critical though, as some children may just give up. Sometimes misspellings can add a level of humor to a letter. In addition to presenting further opportunities to make improvements in spelling and grammar and learn about the writing process, the child is rewarded with a real sense of pride once they’ve written their final draft.
Unlike digital exchanges, letters take time to reach their destinations. It’s natural for your child to be excited about sending a letter, asking whether it has arrived, and waiting for a response, but there is little they can do about hastening the process once the letter is in the mail. Letter writing teaches children about the importance of patience.
Whether your children are just starting to learn how to write or have been writing for years, this is an activity open to kids of all ages. It can also present you with an excellent opportunity to bond as a family. The important thing is to make sure that they feel truly involved. Allowing them to select the recipients of their letters or providing them with special stationery can go a long way. For little ones who can’t write yet, have them draw a picture and tell you what it is about, which you can write for them. Commit to spreading joy in and out of the household this year by participating in Universal Letter Writing Week 2021.
Why stop there? Keep it up and commit to writing one handwritten note card a month to brighten someone else’s day!