Today Sarah from The Puffin Diaries shares her experiences and ideas about writing letterbox contact…
I remember having to write my first letterbox contact and feeling a little bit lost. Yes we had been giving some advice by social workers but actually coming to do it, and suddenly sitting in front of a computer screen, it was all a very different matter. For some letterbox comes as part of a child’s profile, something you need to be prepared to take part in for certain children. For me it never seemed like something I couldn’t do, however as the years have gone on I have struggled at times. It’s great therefore that I have a strategy for doing the letters, a plan to help you through and get the job done.
As I’m writing this post from my own experiences, not as a complete expert if anyone else has any good suggestions please let us know in the comments below.
- I try and cover a couple of main subject areas, achievements, likes and dislikes, health and any major events.
- Don’t give too much personal detail, as in names of places or other people in your lives.
- On the whole I keep it positive.
- As your children get older ask them if there are things they would like to share in the letters.
- I try to write at least a page of A4 in double spacing.
- If you have to write a number of letters, duplicate what you’ve written with slight personal amendments. For example I write to birth mum and grandma, I add a little extra for mum but on the whole the letter is the same.
- Keep copies of the letters and any pictures you send. I think it’s great for the children to see what you’ve written and it can make a good diary of events through their life. I keep all ours in a folder.
- We include photographs in our letterbox. I made a decision early on that I didn’t really like sharing our family pictures. What I do is send copies of school pictures and make sure that they have the shots done with no sweatshirt on, so the school can’t be identified.
- I usually ask politely that we receive a response, even though we have only ever received a couple of letters in the early years. The children ask why we don’t get replies and ask that I write that they would like to hear.
It’s not always easy maintaining this contact, especially when you don’t receive replies. However, I believe it’s important for your children to know that you have tried your hardest to keep to an agreement you made. As children get older it is good to include them in the process. I am still happy to write the letters, but do always ask if they want me to write and what they would like to be included. I am aware that some older children do not wish this contact to be continued and I believe this is very much a point of discussion and thought for each individual family.
As I said above, if you have any useful tips of your own I would really like to read them, as I’m sure others would too, so please add in the comments below.