Keeping in touch with friends near and far is an important part of children’s lives. They see their friends at school or while doing scouting activities all the time, but there’s a world full of youngsters out there who would love a friend from afar.
Becoming a pen pal is the perfect way to correspond with another child, even if they live on the other side of the world.
Of course, we can connect with anyone these days via the internet, but writing letters to a pen pal makes the experience more exciting.
Taking time to write and send letters allows children to be more thoughtful about the exchange. They’ll collect their thoughts and compose a letter that’s full of fun facts, inquisitive, and insightful.
In return, their pen pal will share stories and sentiments that are far more engaging than a few texts or online messages.
Safety Is Paramount
Parents, teachers, and scout leaders who are involved in putting together the pen pal exchange must be highly involved in the process. As careful as we may be, it’s important to be aware of who the child is writing back and forth with. As adults, we must do everything we can to make sure we monitor to ensure safe pen pal exchanges.
The adult should verify the address, and do as much research as possible about the pen pal. That said, it’s still not enough to manage the mailing address. Adults should read what the child is sending and the letter they’ve received from the pen pal in return.
No matter how diligent we are, fraudsters and predators lurk everywhere, preying on the vulnerable, even if they never meet in person. Explain to the child that all pen pal exchanges must be reviewed by an adult. It’s not to invade their privacy, but to keep them safe.
If you see any requests to send money, inappropriate photos, personal information, etc., immediately disengage, and even contact an authority if applicable.
School-To-School Pen Pal Matches
A great way find a safe pen pal for a kid is to pair up with a classroom in another part of the country or even across the world. Teachers can explore this option and set up each student with a friend to write to. This is fun for the whole group, and they can share their experiences with one another.
Friends From Family Vacations, Scouting Conventions, Camp, Etc.
If your child meets someone special somewhere but can’t see them regularly, becoming pen pals is a great way to keep in touch. They’ve met in person, so there’s already a bond that can be further deepened as they write letters to keep the relationship going.
Correspondence with senior citizens and members of the military is also a feel-good way to make friends. These folks will appreciate the sentiment. Every time they get a letter will be a lovely moment they’ll treasure, especially when so many people tend to forget about how important these humans are.
Pen Pal Forums
Pen pal forums such as the forum on friendshipswaps.com are another great resource for finding pen pals for kids. Just remember to follow the tips for a safe pen pal exchange.
Open And Honest
Pen pals can be the perfect “sounding board” for kids to share feelings and fun stories. They may not feel comfortable sharing these with in-person friends, and putting their thoughts to paper can be beneficial in more ways than one.
Since it’s important for you to know what they’re writing. If you see anything too personal or problematic, discuss it with them before they seal the envelope. It’s OK to open up to a pen pal, but talking it out with a trusted adult is valuable.
Staying In Touch
Some kids need to be home for a stretch, whether they’re not feeling well or they are unable to get out to see friends for another reason. Having a pen pal means they can stay in the loop and have some laughs, even if they are locked-in.
Reward your scouts for keeping in touch with their pen pals regularly with a Pen Pal Patch from MakingFriends®.com.
Do your kids have pen pals? How did they hook up?