Handwritten Letters and Life Skills: Keeping Simplicity Alive for Future Generations

Since the COVID-19 health crisis began, and the associated shelter-in-place order was established here locally, I’ve been receiving handwritten letters from my niece and nephew.

When my sister told me that the twins were tasked with creating and sending out handwritten letters, I thought, oh joy! What a great way for two 10 year olds to spend parts of their day. With all the current technological distractions, these letters seemed like such a great idea, a break for them, and ultimately, a gift for me.

At the time, what I didn’t consider was how much I would enjoy receiving and reading them. Nor could I have imagined how much fun it would turn out to be to write them back.

I am old enough to have lived during a time when in-home computers were just gaining traction. At that time, handwritten (or typed) letters, like landline phones, were a part of people’s everyday experience. Not the case today.

It got me thinking about life skills, and how important it is for children and youth to have the opportunity to develop skills, even when, maybe especially when, these skills are not as sought after today. It is important for many reasons, one of which is the necessity to keep these skills alive for future generations. Why?

Because there is an elegance to the written word, like there is in understanding how to balance a checkbook, or creating a meal that doesn’t include “food” from a box. And, it is our job to teach children and youth these skills.

There are a myriad of these life skills that, due to technological advancements, are not as utilized today. In fact, some are out right not taught in schools, or in homes across the country. Why?

Some of the lack of education in life skills has to do with the way K-12 education functions today. Some of it has to do with the fact that people are busy, and don’t always spend the time necessary with their children teaching them these skills, especially as they enter their teenage years. Or, they think they’ll pick them up along the way.

As a parent, I have also fallen into the trap of being busy and assuming that the kids would pick up this or that skill along the way. Yet, what I have learned is that they will not always pick them up. We must teach them these skills.

Though the life skills referred to in this post are quite simple, we make them seem complex, as today there is an easier way to get to the outcome, or result. For instance, it is much easier to look up a word on an online thesaurus, or dictionary website, than it is to use an actual thesaurus or dictionary. Do we assume then that children and youth will simply know how to find, let alone utilize a thesaurus and or dictionary? We should assume not.

We often make the simple complex. It is a pattern most humans have, and one that I’ve referenced in several other posts. It is often harder to find the simpler path, yet strive for it we should. Because we can make something complex, does not mean it should be complex. In fact, it really means that it should be simple.

If making things simpler is something we should strive for, then teaching children and youth basic life skills, which are not as in fashion today should be a goal of every parent and or caretaker. Why?

Because if we don’t teach them these skills, who else will?

Originally published on covid-19creativity.com

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Interests include personal and professional development, increasing access to higher education, and finding new ways to create inspiration and equity.

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