International Friends – Why Your Kid Needs a Pen Pal

My daughter is almost 8 and in grade 2. And she has a new pen pal.


There was no rhyme or reason, but one day it just popped into my head that Elizabeth might like a pen pal. With how much she loves writing letters (she sends letters to family members) and her love for meeting new people, plus the added bonus of a) extra writing practice, and b) one more thing to do when she gets bored, I knew I was on to something. So I did what everyone does to learn more about a subject: I Googled it. Turns out there are some vetted agencies that will facilitate connecting you with a pen pal. (like this one and this one) There is a small fee associated with their services, and I’m a frugal gal, so I wondered it there was another way to meet someone a world away.


I turned to my wanderlust-ing friends and, just as my luck would have it, I had a connection. My close friend, who spent a year on a teaching exchange in Australia, had a connection for me. G’day new pen pal! My friend connected the little girls’ parents and I through Facebook, and I talked to the parents about what my idea was. They loved the plan and were as excited as Elizabeth and I were. The parents and I are now Facebook friends, so they can see how weird I am and I can see how weird they are. I feel like this fact, plus the messages we sent back and forth to set this thing up, combined with my friend vouching for them, is a good enough check for a pen pal.


Elizabeth has written to her pen pal twice already, and it’s averaging about every 2-3 weeks, which is just enough to keep her engaged, but not too much to make it feel like work. The girls ask each other questions (What’s your favourite colour? was one of the first to break the ice), they’ve discussed their school, and have asked in-depth questions about each others homeland: Do you have March Break in Australia? The letters have included stickers and cute pictures of girls in parks and girls wearing ballerina tutus. It’s been a great experience so far.


They’re already discussing the eventual day that one of them will hop on a plane and visit the other. I love watching a new friendship grow.


More Info:

Want to join us for pen pal fun? Here are some other ways to meet a pen pal:

Ex-pats: Do you know someone who works for an international company? Many people in larger corporations move abroad, for business or otherwise. These folks (and their kids) may want to keep in touch with someone from Canada or would love to hear more about this awesome place we call home.

Seniors: Grand-Nanny is 90 and a half, and she loves getting mail! Or postcards from little places we’ve visited, or a handmade work of art from her fave little people. Our grandparents receive a selection of art every so often, which I love sending as much as they love receiving them!

Schools or Clubs: Suggest it to your kid’s teacher, or their Scout Troop. Kids at our school have Facetimed with their sister-school pen pals. Even I had a classroom pen pal when I was in grade 5 – many years ago!


Do your kids have pen pals? Or did/do you have one?


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