We do here at Sunrise Learning Lab!
Then, as they progress with their writing, they may wish to either write out their letter, or they may prefer to type it and then, they can still add drawings and such. If they struggle with spelling, you can either choose to have them try to use invented spelling or else you may wish to give them some guidance with their spelling to make the letter more clear.
You may need to give them some pointers on getting started if they are unsure of what to say, but once they have had some practice with writing, they will start to feel all the more comfortable with what they wish to include in their letter.
My suggestion is to always let them write what they wish to share, rather than to try to have them write what you wish that they should share. Their writing should be authentic. It should be their thoughts and feelings, not necessarily yours. Your child might be very curious about what subjects an adult enjoyed in school or what their favorite sport or food might be...
They may have questions for their pen pals or friends that seems interesting and relevant to them, such as sharing about their toys or about movies or music, so let them run with it as they do their writing.
Your child may or may not care about politics or current events, but that is up to what they want to explore...the key is to respect what is interesting and appealing to your child about writing to a person. Unless their questions cross a line as far as being appropriate to ask, you should encourage them to go ahead and ask their questions that they would like to have answered.
Even if their writing is a little scattered, think that it is good practice for them to try to write what they wish to say.
The only exception to this is if they are sending a thank-you letter, and in that case, you might need to coax them into being a little more specific.
Here at Sunrise Learning Lab, in addition to writing and receiving letters through the postal service, we also enjoy sending & receiving email.
Our sons do not have their own email accounts, as Dear Hubby and I do not feel that our sons or any other little children need to have their own email until they are much older.
However, if our boys want to send an email, I always look over what they have typed and make sure that somewhere, they have explained that they have sent the email from my account and that my contact information is included somewhere in the email.
Even though from time to time we do ePals sponsored projects or pen pal email, we still feel that it is best for any and all of these sorts of projects to be routed through my email.
When they choose to send an email, I make sure that it is their authentic message, although with some email forms, since there is a limit on how long your replies can be, I do have to occasionally edit their email for length and at times, I will make slight edits with respect to spelling and such, but only if it does not significantly change the context of their message.
Our sons have been reading loads of biographies this summer so it has been a springboard to send both letters and email to various famous people that they have read about, either to the actual person or in some cases, to the person's publicist or to their foundations.
Big Bro has sent several emails to The White House, as both he and Little Bro Read have read some books about the First Family, including Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and Nancy Harrison and illustrated by John O'Brien, along with First Dog, by J.Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Tim Bowers.
We also looked up information about the garden at the White House on a blog called Gardenista.
After our reading, they were very curious about The White House Garden.
We plan to read First Lady Michelle Obama's book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Garden and Kitchen Gardens Across America. This looks like a really great book and it will be fun to find out more about the back story of the White House Garden!
We do not have the space to fully do a big garden like the White House one, but hope to do a smaller pizza or salsa container garden on our lanai.
Although we have yet to hear a reply from The White House, we are hopeful that they will send the boys one.
When I was a young child, I wrote to the White House, specifically to Amy Carter. Asked her all kinds of questions and in addition, for whatever reason, I sent her ten cents from my allowance in the form of a nickel and five pennies.
Well, I got a very nice personal letter back that included a photo, as well as a dime, with an explanation that she could not keep gifts!
Always thought that it was so awesome that I sent her a nickel and five pennies and that I got back a dime!
Shared my story of how fun it was to get a letter from Amy Carter and from the White House with Big Bro and Little Bro and ever since, the boys have been very excited about writing letters and email!
***On a side note, my sons have not sent any money in their letters to anyone...***
Besides teaching a child how and why to write and send letters and email, it also is important to teach young children that what they have to say is important...
All children need to feel valued.
They need to realize that what they have to think and to say counts whether they are writing to their beloved grandparents, to a pen pal, to a famous person, to a television network, or even to The White House!
Children need to feel that what they think, say, and write has merit. They should feel free to express their opinions in a constructive way, regardless of the recipients' status. Children should be encouraged to send heartfelt, honest letters to everyone that they wish to know more about...so, if a person or an organization piques their interest, a child should write to find out more first-hand.
Actually, adults could learn so much if more children wrote more emails and / or letters about their thoughts & feelings! If more adults listened and interacted with open ears, eyes, and hearts to curious young children, the world would be a much nicer, more compassionate place.
Well, if you want to work on writing letters and email with your children, I have created a Pinterest board to get you started called Writers' Workshop: Letters & Email