What could connect 3rd graders and 80 year-olds? Handwritten letters! When a teacher of a public school in Dallas realized that her small students couldn’t write and read in cursive, she decided to change the situation.
Karen Gunters of Good Shepherd Episcopal School noticed that kids were not able to write a thank-you note or read simple historical documents as cursive is no longer a part of the curriculum. Children of the digital era are more likely to use emails and messengers than take a pen and write a paper letter.
Gunters teamed up with Tim Mallad, a parent who was also aware of the problem because his daughter once failed to read a hand-written letter he had sent.
The teacher and the father came up with an idea about how to change that. Mallad, who works with many retirement homes, paired Gunters’ students with the elderly from Presbyterian Village North who lack communication and heart-to-heart conversations. So the Pen Pal Project was born.
At first seniors worried they would not have anything to talk about with their little friends. But soon the restrain had gone. In letters students write about their hobbies, families, routines, what they are learning at school and ask the seniors cute questions, for example about their favorite dish or place to go.
“The kids are waiting for old-fashioned envelopes with hand-written letters mailed to each of them and anxiously read them to their class,” Mrs. Gunter told CBSnews. “Excitement fills the air”.
The teacher admits that pupils enjoy lessons of cursive where they study grammar and the mechanisms of writing. Kids have also become more attentive as they know that someone is going to read it.
“It’s fun because you don’t know if you’re going to get all the words right, but it just helps you learn,” Kate Mallard, 9, Tim’s daughter says.
Some months ago the correspondence friends finally met, had lunch together and some fun activities to learn even more about each other.
The project provides a fabulous emotional benefit for lonely oldsters. They feel their importance and significance in someone’s life.