Letter writing is a required skill starting around second grade. At Homeschool Pool we have been letter writing since the kids have been able to scribble. Mostly, letter writing is in the form of thank you notes and occasional special occasion letters but we also encourage other letter writing activities. So, friendly letter writing is a constant in the Homeschool Pool household.
We suggest starting out with letter writing lessons with the basics of a friendly letter. You can expand into business letters from there. A friendly letter consists of:
- Heading: your address and the date to the right of the paper, lined up. A good rule is to start it slightly right of center. However, the address can be omitted for less formal writing or when you are writing on pre printed letterhead. The street address should be on one line, city and state on another and the final line should be the date.
- Salutation: Skip a line under the heading and write your greeting to the left. Most friendly letters start off with “Dear” which is capitalized and the name of the person you are writing to. You may use their given name such as “Dear Sue”, their title such as “Dear Mr. Jones” or their relationship such as “Dear Aunt Mary”. If the letter is very informal you may choose a different salutation such as “Hi” or “Greetings”. All salutations in friendly letters are followed by a comma though modern convention allows you to use an exclamation point in very informal situations.
- Body: Skip a line under the salutation and indent. The body can consist of one or more paragraphs and contains the information you want to write about. If you have multiple paragraphs, each paragraph should be indented.
- Closing: Skip 2 lines after your last sentence in your body and line up your closing with the heading. The first word of your closing is capitalized while all other words are not and the closing is followed by a comma. Common closings include “Love”, “Very truly yours”, “Sincerely”, “Your friend”, etc.
- Signature: your name goes under the closing
- Post Script: You finished your letter and want to add a little something extra you forgot. Skip a line under the signature and add “P.S.” aligned to the left followed by your message. If you have more you may add “P.P.S.” then “P.P.P.S.” and so on, skipping a line between each. However, it is our opinion that if you get past “P.P.S.” you may want to think about revising your letter.
All friendly letters should be hand written. This is also a great time to practice cursive writing. If your child knows cursive, even if they print their body, the signature should be in cursive.
For the body of the letter, use your typical format for writing which includes an introduction, main points and a conclusion. For shorter letters this could be as simple as three sentences. Or, you could have an introductory paragraph, points covered in following paragraphs and a final concluding paragraph for longer letters.
The more you write, the easier it becomes. At Homeschool Pool when we write letters we do so on a piece of notebook paper and create a rough draft. This rough draft is often revised slightly until it is perfect. Younger kids should have their parent or older sibling help edit it. Older children should be able to look at it and revise it according to writing standards.
Once your letter is how you want it presented, write it on nice letterhead, stationary or a note card. We have many different note cards and papers available and the kids love picking out the perfect design for the recipient. Check out sales and pick them up when they are on clearance or off-season. You could even make your own for a fun art project.
Keep in mind there are different rules for email correspondence. We will cover that in a later lesson.
Click here for a friendly letter template and friendly letter sample
Click here for letter writing ideas and tips [coming soon]