What do I say in my letter?

Knowing what to say in a letter to a young person on the other side of the globe  one you've never met!  can be a daunting prospect for many sponsors. We know our sponsored children love to receive letters, but ... what should we say?!

It is always important to consider the age of your sponsored child when writing and to adjust your topics and vocabulary accordingly. Keep in mind also that although your child may be very young now, he or she will treasure and keep your letters and reread them in 10 years when his or her comprehension skills are much higher. Also remember that your letter will probably be excitedly shared with your child's parents, siblings, relatives, friends and neighbors!

Suggested topics of discussion:
  • Your family (spouse, children, parents, siblings, cousins) and pets
  • Your favorite sports and hobbies
  • Your occupation
  • Your holiday celebrations and traditions
  • Your town (geography, special buildings, climate)
  • Why you chose your child (what made them special, what made you want to help them)

Do not be afraid to tell your sponsored children about your life's ups and downs! They will celebrate your successes and often offer words of comfort at difficult times.

Encourage your child often:
  • Celebrate good grades
  • Tell her you are proud of her
  • Remind him that hard work will help him achieve his dreams.
Ask your child questions:
  • His favorite colors, sports and games
  • How many kids are in her class at school
  • How far his home is from the CI center
  • Who lives with her (there are often relatives, such as cousins or grandparents, living in the same home, though they're not listed on the family report)
  • Whether he has any pets
  • What are her hopes and dreams for the future.

Two kids in the community center write letters to sponsors.

Also, if you learn of something occurring in your child's area (earthquake, typhoon, fire) that may have affected him or her, you can ask about it. Even though CI will notify you directly if your child was affected by any such event, your child will appreciate knowing that you are concerned.

Topics to approach cautiously (or avoid all together):
  • Material items and possessions: Children can become discouraged when confronted with all the things they do not have.
  • Religion: Describing your religion (particularly with regard to holiday traditions) is probably okay ... trying to convert your child to your beliefs is probably not.
  • Social issues: Many of our children come from cultures that are vastly different than ours, and discussing some controversial topics may inadvertently offend your child or his family.
  • Extra gifts you have sent: I know, this one sounds strange. If your letter arrives before the gift, however, it can cause confusion. Also, remember that your letter will probably be shared with neighbors  some of whom may also be sponsored, but whose sponsor has not sent any additional gifts. Feelings of jealousy or neglect may inadvertently be triggered.

Once a few letters have traveled back and forth between you and your child, you will likely find it much easier to come up with topics of discussion! You may even discover a conversation develops over a shared interest. Only time will tell!

Ready to write your child? Log in to “My Account” and click “Write My Children” to get started.