Pen Pals: Homeschoolers Try Old School Communication

Gaga over Snail Mail (You: Huh, what era are we in again?). LOL.

Photo Disclaimer: Addresses are not shown for confidentiality.

In a world where almost everything is now instant, sending postal mails seems to be a very backward way of communicating with someone. (Well, yeah our patience had been tested; I kept on asking and wondering if the mail got lost already). I think it took around more or less 2 weeks in sending and another estimate of 2 weeks for receiving.

But there is something so intricate and personal in writing letters. I do remember having a collection of letters from classmates and friends, even from my relatives since I was in grade school all the way to college years. Now I kept letters from my grandmother, my Tita from US and my parents. There’s something so unique in personal handwritten letters compared to printed emails, since each of us has our own penmanship style. Though one can relay the same content and thoughts via email, the effort and personalization of the letter sender in each stroke of letters is how handwritten mail differs and more valuable. For me, that’s something I will always treasure and remember from each of my loved ones.

One homeschool parent from one of the FB Homeschool groups I joined had this fascinating idea to have a Pen Pal exchange amongst interested kids. I asked my daughter if she wants to join and she excitedly said yes.

How does it work? Those who wanted to join would just simply list down their age, gender and location. Some added more information such as their kid’s interests and likes. The parents will send direct or personal messages to the parents of the kids whom they like their children to exchange letters with.

What are the benefits of having a Pen Pal through snail mail? One, it is a great medium for my daughter to practice her handwriting and also to enhance her writing and reading skills. And of course, given that we are a minority, I believe it is a great way for my daughter to know more of other homeschooled kids and be connected with each other. As a parent, it also feels good to have a quick chitchat (over FB Messenger, haha I know, ironic huh!) with like-minded parents.

There’s also this certain joy of anticipation and excitement in receiving letters. When Sofie finally received her first mail, she was literally jumping and screaming.

It also teaches patience and delaying gratification. My daughter knows and has experienced sending text messages via her mobile phone and app messengers since she was 7 years old. When she was about 9 years old, I also allowed and taught her how to send email to our relatives. So you can imagine her frustration, when her first mail hasn’t reached the recipient even after a week that it was dropped in post office. She kept on asking me how long it will take to arrive. She kept on telling me that maybe it was lost, or her grandpa forgot to mail it or maybe her new Pen Pal ignored it (LOL, see even my patience was tested too in answering her questions :P). And when I told her that her Pen Pal already got her letter and replied, every time our dog barks she’ll run downstairs to check if it’s her mail.

Another benefit of having a Pen Pal is it helps develop social skills. You see in the world of homeschooling, the term socialization has become a buzzword because it is a common question and/or objection from people. “What about their socialization?” Oh well, I had been immune to such arguments that sometimes if the person I’m talking to is so stubborn and cannot even fathom what the true meaning of socialization is, I just let it pass, they are just not worth my time. But yes, “Socialization” is such a big word in homeschooling that it deserves its own blog post.

This Pen Pal exchange is one great way to encourage and promote good social skills for the kids as it teaches empathy. It provides them the experience of reading and understanding another kid’s thoughts and feelings. And to respond accordingly through written words to their Pen Pal’s thoughts and sentiments. It also gives them the opportunity to learn what a true “give and take” means. It also widens their perspective as they read each other stories, be it about homeschooling or kid stuff or life in general.

And the greatest thing about this Pen Pal exchange is the possibility of gaining new friends.