The Benefits of Having A Pen Pal: Growth and Development
Having a Pen Pal can promote healthy development for kids of all ages and abilities. In our last post, you heard from three pen-pals, Anika, Shanaya, and Sabrina, who have only met in person three times but have created a lifetime bond. Let's examine why these connections are so meaningful and beneficial to their personal growth and development.
Image source: The Sunflower
1. Writing letters helps hone and develop a child’s reading and writing skills.
Whereas writing letters is an extinct practice by this point, writing out a note can be beneficial to developing basic writing skills. Now, teens and young adults rely so heavily on text language, shortening their words to abbreviations such as lol (laugh out loud), omw (on my way), and brb (be right back), rather than typing out complete sentences. However, the practice of writing an entire letter is more satisfying than texting, but it can also be more therapeutic in the same sense as journaling.
In addition, practicing writing in a different form, rather than essay form for school or texting day-to-day, is another way to improve writing skills and knowledge. And for those who may be writing in a second language, corresponding with a pen pal through a pen pal program may naturally strengthen their writing in the second language.
A letter that participant Sabrina wrote to Pen Pal Shanaya through SoF’s Pen Pal Program
2. Pen pals encourage children to see other life perspectives.
As they lack the life experience, travel, and knowledge that most adults have, which puts the world in view, teens and young adults can typically be more narrow-minded and oftentimes egocentric. The repetition of hearing first-hand stories from someone who lives in a different place, has a different home life, or different culture, or even speaks a different language encourages young adults and teens to think outside of themselves and see the world from another perspective.
This may be especially true if the pen pal comes from a different nation or lives in a different country or state, as their culture will differ. Learning about a pen pal’s daily challenges, tasks, or habits, will provide a different outlook on what truly matters in life.
A letter participant Sabrina wrote to her Pen Pal Anika through SoF’s Pen Pal Program
3. Waiting for a pen pal letter promotes patience in participating children.
Patience may be a difficult task for some children, especially those with ADD, ADHD, or other challenges which result in impulsivity and impatience. It is important to instill this virtue in children when they are young, as many good things in life come to those who are patient and determined. One way to do this is through a pen pal program.
Sending text messages is immediate, and responses back can be almost instantaneous. However, having the ability to hand-write a letter, put it in an envelope, mail it to the receiver, and wait days, maybe even weeks, for a reply is a positive way to develop the skill of patience. Having a pen pal can be extremely rewarding for teens, as they experience the joy of anticipation.
4. Writing to a pen pal can help develop social skills.
Lastly, social skills are extremely important for teens and young adults to develop as they grow toward adulthood. For this reason, it is important to encourage socialization through activities such as pen pal programs. Having a pen pal promotes empathy and concern for others and fosters the ability to communicate and find commonalities with others––all of which are key elements to making and sustaining friendships. The practice of writing to a pen pal can be especially beneficial for introverted or challenged teens and young adults who may find in-person social interaction to be hard. Writing a letter allows them to plan what they want to say instead of nervousness when interacting with someone.
Ultimately, having a pen pal can create many opportunities for young children and teens, which is why SoF created the program. For instance, the friendship between SoF’s first Pen Pals, Anika, Shanaya, and Sabrina (their letters are pictured in this article), is something every child deserves to experience. Through the SoF Pen Pal Program, they have developed many important life skills.
If you know someone who would be interested in being able to send letters or have phone calls with someone with similar interests to them, please contact us.