A new initiative '#UAEPenPals' has been launched to get children back into writing, and learning how to communicate using the traditional method of sending handwritten letters to friends and family.
The idea is the brainchild of Abu Dhabi mother and daughter team, Asha and Poppy Sherwood, who came up with the idea during a two-week stint of social distancing over the early Spring break.
The aim of UAE Pen Pals is to introduce letter writing to children as well as helping them refine their handwriting, spelling and creative writing skills. They also want to create connections amongst the younger generation.
Asha Sherwood, said “After discussing with Poppy the things we used to do when we were younger, the subject of pen pals came up and how we learnt about people through letters and asking questions. The concept of posting a letter was alien to her, and she couldn’t understand why people would wait a week or longer for a response! We decided to write a letter to a friend’s daughter, who is older, and chose to use the technology available to us to send it immediately."
The process is simple, the child writes a letter on paper and uses their parents’ digital connections to send an image of the correspondence to their pen pal. Once received, the parent prints or shows the letter to the second child and they respond in the same way, ensuring that parents are kept in the loop throughout the whole exchange.
UAE Pen Pals encourages children of all ages to get involved, especially older kids who can offer their younger counterparts’ expansion of their vocabulary.
Asha continues: “I’m so pleased that Poppy was paired with an older child writer because her pen pal uses words she hasn’t heard before and she actively asks me what they mean. It’s a great way of educating without her realising she is learning.”
As the region continues to implement social distancing, kids are spending more time at home and less time with friends. UAE Pen Pals is hoping to increase their communication skills and confidence, whilst combating the amount of time spent in front of screens.