letter-writing-tips

Letter-writing Tips
Your letters make a difference!

For many of us, deciding how and what to write is sometimes more difficult than writing itself. That's why we're offering you the following ideas for writing to your sponsored child.

If you would like some additional letter-writing motivation, follow our Second Friday Letter Writing Club on the Compassion Blog and join with other sponsors who write their children the second Friday of every month.

Letter-writing Tips FAQ
Keep your letters short and simple.

Write about things your sponsored child will understand. Here are some proven topics that work well:

  • Describe your family. Children also love to receive pictures of their sponsors' families.
  • Discuss your favorite pastimes. Explain what you did on vacation. Talk about your hobbies or sports you enjoy.
  • A description of your work, church or school would be of interest to your sponsored child. Work is an especially appropriate topic for older children.
  • Talk about your relationship with Jesus Christ and share your prayer requests.
  • Explain customs for special holidays.
  • Provide a general description of the area where you live (no specific addresses, please).
  • Encourage your sponsored child in any success or milestone he or she has achieved.
Also, we request that you keep your letter's length to one page of printing or double-spaced type to help our translators. That will also help your letter get to your sponsored child as quickly as possible.

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Avoid certain topics.

The list above is a good starting point for exploring together what you have in common. There are, however, a few things that might actually make the child you sponsor feel uncomfortable. These include:

  • Elaborating on your material possessions (for example, the size of your home or kind of car you drive). This will only accentuate the difference between you and the child you're helping.
  • Suggesting that your sponsored child visit the United States.
  • Using slang or colloquialisms that would be difficult to translate or understand.
  • Asking what your sponsored child would like as a gift from you. In many countries we serve, such a question puts a child in a very awkward social position.

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If you sponsor as a group...

It's best to appoint one person from your group to correspond with your sponsored child. It's far less intimidating for a child to talk with one person than before a group of adults.

The same principle applies to letter writing: the child will be most comfortable corresponding with one consistent person representing your group. Of course your group can construct composite letters to send to your sponsored child; simply have the same person close each letter with his or her personal name before the group name.

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Allow your sponsored child the appropriate time to develop letter-writing skills.

Children love to receive letters, but they may find it very difficult to write them. This is especially true for younger children, children who start late in school, and children in remote locations. You'll receive about three letters a year from your sponsored child, and your sponsored child will write those letters himself if he is able. Otherwise, center staff or teachers will assist your sponsored child in writing.

In the learning process, some centers teach children to copy text from the board or use a "fill-in-the-blank" format to help them develop their writing skills. (Most children need some assistance until they reach the fourth grade; some children with disabilities need assistance throughout their time as sponsored children.)

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You may send a small gift to your sponsored child with a letter.

Children love receiving gifts that are simple reminders of their sponsors' special love for them.

You can enclose small items, such as postcards, greeting cards, bookmarks, stamps, pages from coloring books, appropriate photos and pictures with the letters you write.

The items cannot be larger than 8-1/2" x 11" and cannot be more than 1/4" thick. It is a good practice to label all pieces with the child's number.

Unfortunately, we are no longer able to send the following:

  • cloth items
  • plastic
  • ribbons
  • balloons

View the complete list of items you may send your child.

Visit our blog for more ideas on what to send your sponsored child.

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Research your child's country and culture.

Do a bit of research about your child's country, and ask them about any upcoming national holidays.

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Ask your Compassion-assisted child about his or her favorite sport. Make sure you ask them to explain it, in case it's a sport you've not heard of before.

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Ask them about their friends. Ask their friends' names, and what they like to do with their friends for fun.

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Ask your Compassion-assisted child about his or her favorite subject in school. Find ways to encourage your child's strengths by asking questions about the things he or she is good at.

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Photos of the seasons.

If you live somewhere where there are seasons, send photos with short descriptions. Most of the world doesn't have multiple seasons.

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A word of encouragement. Tell your sponsored child you're proud of him/her. Share an encouraging verse.

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Holiday traditions. Share what you did over Christmas. Tell your child about Easter traditions. Be careful not to talk too much about gifts, though, as children in poverty rarely receive gifts.

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Make sure you have your child's last letter on hand when you write a new one. They often ask you questions that you can use as starting points for your letter.

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Ask them about church. Ask them questions about their teachers at church, and their favorite Bible stories.

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