Writing Practice: Letters to an Imaginary Friend

I was lamenting to Aristotle’s teacher over his reluctance to practice writing. To be honest, I can’t really blame him. Who wants to practice writing line after line of a’s and b’s? Unfortunately, practice makes perfect and he won’t get better at it unless we find a way to motivate him. So his teacher suggested the following ideas:

  • ask him to help write out the shopping list
  • ask him to help write secret letters to Daddy
  • ask him to write letters to an imaginary dinosaur friend

For some reason I chose the last idea first. I figured that since he liked to pretend to be like Harry and his Bucketful of Dinosaurs (carrying around an imaginary bucketful of dinosaurs and doing role call and talking to them), he would slip into the whole imaginary dinosaur friend idea really well. So I wrote him this fictitious letter from an imaginary dinosaur called Steggy while he slept one afternoon, all the while having visions of an enthusiastic Aristotle eagerly practicing his handwriting skills after seeing the letter.

I confess I was quite unprepared for his barrage of questions as he looked at the letter rather dubiously, like:

  • “Where did this letter come from?”
  • “That’s not a real stamp. It looks like someone drew it.”
  • “Dinosaurs are extinct, so how can a dinosaur write this?”
  • “Where did dinosaurs get paper from?”
  • “How did dinosaurs get crayons to write this?”
  • “How did dinosaurs learn how to write?”

And on it went. Nevertheless, I finally managed to convince him to write back, and this was his reply:

I must say that I was rather impressed by the effort he put into it. After all his questions, I had all but given up on the idea of letter writing. The picture is of a rock that he and Steggy are playing hide and seek behind. He wrote the entire letter without assistance from me so he was also practicing sounding out words and figuring out how to spell them himself. Even if he never writes Steggy another letter after this, I think Aristotle enjoyed the activity.

The idea behind this activity is not only to practice handwriting but to encourage him to put his thoughts to pencil. During the last parent teacher meeting, his teacher was telling me that although Aristotle is very articulate, it is not evident in his written work.

When I listen to Aristotle’s imaginary play with his toys, he comes up with the most amusing scenarios. I thought it would be nice to have him capture it on paper. What better way to inculcate that than to have him write letters to an imaginary friend? I suppose it remains to be seen how far we’ll be able to take this activity.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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