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No. 1

In This Issue

Due to space constraints, Doc’s Digest did not appear in the January/February 2010 issue. Doc’s Digest will resume publication on a new rotating schedule beginning in the March/April issue.
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by MaryAnn Carver
- disclaimer -
Five Great Reasons to Write Notes
MaryAnn Gaver
Column Host
MaryAnn Gaver

A simple handwritten note can be a wonderful gift. Thank you notes, I love you notes and have-a-great-day notes can be long remembered and cherished. This winter, I encourage you to gather the pens and paper, and start writing.

Here are five reasons to write notes:

  • It’s a natural and non-intimidating way to introduce children to writing. As kids express their thoughts and impressions on paper, they learn to write easily.
  • People love receiving notes. Receiving a handwritten card in the mailbox sure beats getting bills and junk mail!
  • It’s a great way to communicate. We’re meant to write! And, regardless of today’s technology, young people especially need the ability to write well.
  • Notes make an impact. Whether it’s a heartfelt tribute to parents or an expression of love to your spouse, notes can be treasured for a long time—even a lifetime.
  • Note writing is personal and special. In this age of instant social networking, a thoughtfully written note says that you care.

Again, I encourage you to be a family that writes. Say, “I love you,” “I appreciate you,” or “I’m your #1 fan!” Elaborate. Be sincere, creative—and keep writing!

MaryAnn Gaver and her husband, Jay, have been homeschooling their twin sons for eight years.

It Started With a Single Card…

Writing Letters

Our family lives in California, but my sister-in-law lives in Virginia. Knowing our interest in writing, my sister-in-law suggested that she and the kids become pen pals. She started the process by hand making beautiful cards for each child. Once the kids saw her handiwork they insisted on following with their own. Now it has become a tradition. My sister-in-law mails each of them a handmade card and each child replies with a handmade card of their own. My sister-in-law has even started taking courses on how to make different designs and, when she is in town, gives lessons to the kids. We have enjoyed the artistic process of creating the cards, the practice of beautiful penmanship and written conversation, and also the ability to keep in touch. What a blessing it is to see their faces light up when another card is received in the mail and how much more of a blessing to hear them plan the cards they are going to make themselves.

by Cristina G. / Fontana, CA

If You Give a Dragon a Typewriter

I wanted my older daughter to get more real-life practice in letter writing and typing. After a few failed attempts at finding pen pals, I asked if she’d like to be a secret pen pal to her younger siblings. She decided to pick a different imaginary creature to write to each sibling and left a typed note on each of their pillows. This has now been going on almost weekly for about one year. They still don’t know who is writing the notes, and they don’t want to, for fear it will end. She even writes notes to herself so no one will suspect her. It is an educational blessing (7-year-olds asking to learn how to type), and a joy to see siblings enjoy bringing happiness to each other.

Here are my daughter’s thoughts on her mystical pen pal creations:

When my siblings are not looking, I type letters, print them, and then hide them in different places where they often look. When they find them, they read the messages, then type back and put them where they found my letters. They don’t know it is me; they think it is Sarah, the 100-legged spider; Harry, the fuzzy ball with a face and feet; and Lily, the blue Pegasus. I had to figure out a way to keep them from finding out that I was the real one who was writing the letters, so I wrote a letter to myself. Now they think that Emerald the dragon is writing to me.

by Diane & Heidi S. (11) / Boise, ID

Creating a Letter-Writing Station

Pens and Paper
Our family has several relatives declining in health (cancer, Alzheimers, etc.) who prefer letters to phone calls or email. To help us all begin and sustain a habit of frequent letter writing, I set up a “letter writing display” on one wall of the living room. I wish I had started this years ago, but the key is to begin now without making it harder than it needs to be. With a large family, I did not need another “subject to teach,” so this works well for us. I posted a photo of the person/family to write to, printed in large letters each person’s mailing address, and staged stamps, address labels, note cards, and pens. The kids may choose whom they write to, but must write to someone each week. They’ve learned to address their own envelopes, and the older ones help the younger ones create pictures to send. One daughter began painting her own cards, and another made her own pop-up cards. I do not proofread the cards or letters, knowing that half the charm of receiving them is seeing the common childhood errors. The recipients hopefully will also notice the kids’ writing, spelling, and grammar improve over time. A side benefit is that the kids get their own mail now, and one grandma sends us stamps to encourage us to continue. Our relative with Alzheimers keeps all the cards on her table for display. Letter writing is an excellent way to make school “real” and get constant encouragement from people other than you. Everyone gets blessed.

by Patricia M. / Groton, CT

Thankful Thursday

When our children were younger, we began a Thankful Thursday project to aid in their personal letter-writing skills. Each child thought of someone who touched their lives or needed encouragement, then wrote a note, decorated it, and prepared an envelope for mailing.

The practical skills were useful in our school plan, but the heart impact was greater than I could have planned. Their notes were varied but simple—sometimes Scripture, sometimes just a child’s heart: “I’m glad you are part of our lives.” “I’m sorry for the situation.” I was surprised at the recipients’ enthusiastic response.

Some still ask if we have “Thankful Thursday” as part of our schooling. It helped our children learn to appreciate others and realize the impact they could have on someone with a simple effort.

by the Y. family / Port Crane, NY

Share Your Tips

This column is designed to feature teaching tips, encouragement, and advice from homeschooling parents.

Dads, let’s hear from you in our Sept./Oct. 2010 issue! What advice would you give to a father who is new to homeschooling? Send us your advice in 150 words or less. Submissions may be edited for space. Mail submissions to:

Attn: Parent to Parent, HSLDA
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134

Or email us (include “Parent to Parent” in the subject line) at ComDept@hslda.org

Please include your name and address. Submission deadline is 6/15/10.