Every few weeks second graders’ eyes light up when letters arrive from their pen-pals at Laurelmead, a senior retirement community on Providence’s east side. Children in Ms. Rich’s class are paired up with pen-pals who exchange letters about their daily lives, their classroom activities, their pets, and their travels.
Second graders Chibuzo Ihenacho and Adrian Pagan spoke excitedly about their pen-pals, “Bonnie” (Cunningham) and “Joy” (Ames). Bonnie is a fan of ice cream and loves taking walks on the grounds of Laurelmead. Joy has a pooch named Sheffield and also loves to walk with her canine companion. Both children were thrilled to learn that the pen pals will be coming to Paul Cuffee for a hot chocolate meet and greet in the upcoming months.
“The best part,” Adrian said, “is that we get to share with our pen-pals and we get to go there!”
Chibuzo agreed. “I like knowing that I have my very own pen-pal, someone just for me.”
Besides improving writing skills, the program has the benefit of developing intergenerational relationships and preserving the declining art of written correspondence.
“I believe students should still be exposed to ‘real’ hand written letters,” said Ms. Rich. “Most of our communication now is texting, emails, etc. Who doesn’t love to get ‘snail mail’?”