Letter writing is an age-old method of communicating.
And service members love nothing more than getting letters from home — especially from their kids. Letter writing for kids can be therapeutic as well as educational when they do it weekly.
Whether it’s on paper, email, or in an app, it’s important to encourage your kids to connect to their deployed parent as much as possible while they’re away. So often in the military world, letter writing is the only method of communicating.
Not to mention, it means the world to deployed parents.
It’s hard for kids to understand why their parents have to deploy, especially if they’re young. By having a weekly family gathering that includes letter writing for kids, it connects you as a family while creating content that will have a lasting impact on your service member. Plus, you can have discussions about how your kids are feeling about the deployment.
Need some ideas for letter writing?
Here we break down letter writing for kids of all ages:
Ideas for Letter Writing for Kids to a Deployed Parent
It may be a fight sometimes, so gently encouraging writing sessions is best. Some kids may despise writing. If that’s the case, let your child create artwork as their way of communicating with their deployed parent.
Have a writer on your hands? Let their creativity flourish! If your child wants to free-write, let them have at it.
These are simply some starter ideas ideal for children of all ages broken down into age-appropriate categories.
Even though toddlers can’t write sensical letters, you can still involve them in the “letter writing” process through age-appropriate projects. Let them get creative with paint, crayons, and other crafts to send to their deployed parent. While they create, you can write your letter to your other half.
A few ideas:
- Art projects – Send along any little art projects your toddler has put together at home or school. Handprints and footprints are always cherished ways for deployed parents to see how their kids are growing. Make double copies and create a welcome home book in case the artwork gets lost during deployment.
- Document special outings – Aside from taking and sending pics, add a story to each photo as told by your toddler. If they went to a water park or a big visit to the zoo, ask them to tell you about their favorite part. Then write it down exactly as they explained it in the letter to your deployed other half. Your service member will love the candid and funny commentary.
Elementary School/Middle School
Not only is letter writing a great way to understand written text, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to develop handwriting skills as well. If your child is typing an email, take the time to teach them the proper way to type for efficiency, too.
Here’s a look at topics your elementary and middle school kids may want to talk about in their letter:
- Birthday parties – Deployments are generally long enough where a birthday gets missed. If celebrating, take plenty of pics and have your child write about their favorite parts of their party.
- Sports – Encourage them to fill in their deployed parent on any sports they may be playing, including exciting wins or lessons learned. If your child and the deployed parent loved watching sports, have them print out scores and other exciting stats on beloved college or pro sports teams to send in their letters.
- Weekend recaps – If your family enjoys weekend activities like going to local parks, the movies, festivals, etc., the deployed family member would love to hear about those. After those events, sit down for a family letter-writing session to recap the weekend activities.
Parts of a Letter Kid’s Lesson
Depending on where your child is in school, it may be appropriate to include parts of a letter for kids to understand how traditional letter writing works.
The basic parts most lessons include:
- Body of the letter
Bonus practice: Chat with your child’s teacher to get an idea of when letter writing will be covered in school. Your child’s teacher may also be open to your child’s class writing your deployed service member’s entire unit or platoon if you ask! It’s great practice for the kids and also provides a valuable lesson in learning about military service.
The high school age is a tricky one since teens don’t want to be told what to do. If you do family letter writing sessions together — especially with siblings — remind them of how they’re being a good role model by participating.
If they are feeling emotional or stuck when it comes to ideas, here are a few ideas to get them going:
- School achievements – Have regular discussions about school to pull out gems that they may be able to share with the deployed parent. New friends, favorite classes, exciting science experiments, etc. are all topics that may seem mundane but build a continued connection between parent and child. Encourage them to drop those into a letter as they think about them.
- Personal development – If your teens are of driving age, take pics at the DMV as they’re getting their permit or driver’s license. Don’t forget a snapshot of them holding their newly-acquired license. Ask them to write the deployed parent and recount the experience. If they’ve recently attended a retreat or conference, that’s another prime storytelling opportunity.
- Household changes – A lot can change during a deployment cycle. If you’re making any household improvements and the kids are involved, snap pics and send them in a letter. Your spouse will love seeing the kids in action helping around the house and seeing the progress of home improvements. Ask your kids to detail what they love doing best.
- Big events – Homecoming, prom, scholarship banquets, sports games, etc. are big events in a high schooler’s life. Documents these and even if they don’t want to write about them, encourage them to pick their favorite photos to send to their deployment parent.
Letter Writing For Kids Is a Valuable Lesson
Not only is letter writing a great skill for kids to have, but it gives your deployed family member something to look forward to while they’re away.
Letters are morale boosters and a connection to home that they can look at whenever they want a reminder of love. Deployed service members treasure every letter — whether handwritten, emailed, or sent through the Sandboxx app.
For kids, it’s a great way to strengthen vocabulary, practice penmanship, and communication skills — no matter what age they are. It’s also a valuable lesson in spending time doing a nice gesture for a family member who isn’t involved in daily activities due to their job.
Family relationships are everything — especially in the military world — and letter writing is just one way to stay connected when you feel so far apart.
We’d love to know: How many letters do you send a week to your deployed loved one? Drop us a note and share it in the comments below!
Want to write your own positive, uplifting letters to boot camp or a deployed family member? Check out our post: Boot Camp Letter Examples: Writing Positive Letters.
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash