My six year old, Z, is an avid writer, artist, “colorer,” and, maker of fine and not so fine arts. When she sees a pen, she feels compelled to start writing or drawing on any paper she can find. She then brings all of her art and her letters to me and demands that I put on an art show in my office, on the fridge or wherever else there is free wall space and an audience. It’s always a picture of me, her, her dad, the beach, her pretend dog maybe her brother if they’re getting along.
Every day there is a new piece of art that she feels must be displayed—abroad, or just wherever I am. It was getting to be too much. I had to figure out a way to get her to spread her art around ... elsewhere.
I wanted to give my little one an outlet. A way to express herself and still get something back in return—because I was not posting every single drawing on my wall. It was just too much!
My friends and I communicate daily (sometimes hourly) via email. We are spread out all over the world and use Facebook and Linked in and all of those other e-networking/connecting sites to stay in touch. This is how I get my updates on their kids and their lives and I learned that we are all going through the same things!
I saw a common connection and decided to give Z an outlet that would be rewarding, fun, bring out all of her creativeness and allow her to spread her art around the world. I asked all of my friends who had kids Z’s age to allow their kids to write her and be her official PenPal. They loved the idea!
Now Z has fifteen PenPals that are made up of my friends’ kids and it works out safely for everyone involved.
I created labels for the PenPals, gave her a stack of envelopes, colored pencils and a ton of paper. Z writes her friends whenever she feels like it, puts the letter in the envelope, sticks the label on it with the stamp and puts it in the mailbox herself. And where does her art go? Into the rooms of her wonderful PenPals.
She has taken full ownership of all those works of art from her friends and proudly displays their paintings in her room! The other great advantage is this... she gets to work on her handwriting and the thought of getting mail is a joy like none other. A key to keeping this up is to have parents that support it. But once the kids start getting letters, they won’t want to stop!
I still get drawings from Z but now I see that she has broadened her horizons. She learns a lot from her PenPals and I see pieces of them included in her art.