May 9, 2012

The Pen Pal Proposal

(*Editor's Note: I changed the name of this from The Great Penmanship Project to simply The Pen Pal Project. My kids hear the word "penmanship" and run screaming in the other direction. I want to make this fun for them and get them excited so I will not mention to them that it is actually work.*)

I have just become inspired by something that started out as a necessary chore. Fed up with my children's chicken scratch handwriting, I decided I am going to use the summer break to re-teach them penmanship. I posted on Facebook what I was going to do and asked if anyone wanted a pen pal. I figured it would give my kids a chance to practice their handwriting on something other than boring exercises. I've been getting such a positive response that I've decided to launch The Pen Pal Project.

What I would like to do is match our kids up with other kids their age and have them be pen pals for the summer. They will be able to practice their penmanship, learn letter format and how to properly address an envelope--all dying but still necessary skills. They will be able to connect with kids in other parts of the country and maybe broaden their horizons a bit.

Although we homeschooled for much of elementary school, the boys had already learned the D'Nealian style of writing when I pulled them out. If you're not familiar with this, it's a style of writing that is harder to learn than the traditional block printing we learned growing up, but it's supposed to make it that much easier to learn cursive. The problem is, my boys now start all their letters from the bottom and go up, and they retrace a lot of their lines. Trust me, it's just as hard to read as it is to explain. We try to encourage them to go slow and write neatly, but their excuse is, "But my teacher doesn't care!" I assured them this was not true and proceeded to politely suggest to the teachers that it would help if they encouraged nice handwriting in my kids. I was told it wasn't important. Now, I don't blame the teachers; they have more important things to worry about like passing those standardized tests so their funding doesn't get yanked and teaching to children who vary widely in skill levels. I just chalk up as another failure in the system.

So here's my proposal: If you are interested in your child(ren) having a pen pal, send me your information and I will pair them up. Want a kid of a certain age/gender? Let me know. Want more than one pen pal? Let me know that as well. Are you a grown up who would just like to have a pen pal? We can do that too, as long as you are willing to write back. I think if we can encourage the kids to write one letter a week, that would do it. That will be enough that they will get plenty of practice in writing neatly--and legibly--and they won't have time to get lax on the whole thing. Going on vacation? Send a postcard or a letter while you're gone. You can find a mailbox anywhere. Also, who doesn't love to get letters? Don't feel like you have to post everything publicy--you can send me your info through email at wickedchick@yahoo.com. Feel free to share this with anyone you know who might be interested. I will gather names and addresses until May 26th and then send everyone their pen pal's info on June 1st.

Here's to making The Pen Pal Project a success!

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