Putting pen to paper: the schools nurturing a love of the written word

Apr 5, 2018 by

Slow communication such as letter writing is a dying art, but teachers are creating opportunities to keep penmanship alive

At Jenner Park Primary School in Barry, Wales, pupils between the ages of seven and nine are writing letters to residents of a local care home. The initiative sees children and their elderly pen pals exchange updates about their lives, helping to build relationships between generations while also giving the children an understanding of the value of writing letters by hand – an activity that’s becoming less and less common.

The project was started by Springbank Care Home as a way to create links between the two. Now, the school stresses the importance of taking time to write letters with pen and paper, making good handwriting “meaningful and real for the children”.

Laura Johnson, the teacher who coordinates the scheme at Jenner Park, says she’s seen her pupils develop a real sense of empathy and understanding of elderly people. “The pen pal scheme has given them a more meaningful focus, which has made writing an enjoyable and exciting task,” explains Johnson. “They love being able to write to the residents and share their news.” The process is also useful for learning to write for different purposes and audiences, she adds.

A similar letter writing project is taking place at Franche Primary School in Kidderminster, in partnership with two local care homes. “There’s something about reading a handwritten letter that gives you a positive buzz, rather than something that’s printed,” says Katie Sinclair, creative curriculum leader. “There’s a slight excitement about deciphering the cursive script and knowing that person has actually sat down and written it just for you and only you – it’s very personal. That’s why our letter writing is a big part of what we do at school.”

The children have also been writing letters to their heroes such as the former rugby player Jonny Wilkinson and the naturalist and TV presenter David Attenborough, asking what their motivations are for the work they do. Attenborough responded with his own handwritten letter, explaining how he has always had an interest in animals. Pupils in year 2, meanwhile, wrote a letter to the Queen last year inviting her to their summer party – an offer she politely declined.

Source: Putting pen to paper: the schools nurturing a love of the written word | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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