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Grandletter Instructions
These instructions are written from the grandparent's perspective. If you are a parent, feel free to make a copy of these instructions (and the weekly assignments for the grandparent) to send to the elder you hope to involve in the program with one of your children.
What You Need for the Program
  • 2 copies of these Program Instructions (the page you are now reading--one for you and one for the parents)
  • 1 copy of the Weekly Topic Letters (for you)
  • 1 copy of the Weekly Topic Letters (for grandchild)
Steps for Success
Step 1. Choose one grandchild, 7 to 12 years old
This grandchild should be one who doesn't visit you too often and would benefit from the exchange. If this grandchild has brothers or sisters who also fall into this age range, you might reduce the possibility of jealousy if you start with the oldest child. Explain to the others that you hope to repeat the program with them later.
Step 2. Contact the grandchild's parents
The parents' involvement will be required with some of the grandchild's activities. Send a set of these program instructions and the Grandchild Letters/Instructions to the child's parents describing the program and how they can help. Be sure to ask them to do the following:

1. Introduce the idea to their child. Parents should be sure that their child understands the program. Tell him/her that:

  • your grandparent will send you a special letter. In this special letter you will hear stories about your grandparent's life and do fun activities.
  • you will keep a scrapbook. You will keep the drawings, pictures, and special letters your grandparent sends you in this book. Your parents will help you make the scrapbook.
  • your grandparent will tell you what to put in the return special letter. With each letter, you will receive instructions for fun activities to do and ideas to write about when it's your turn.
  • if you have any questions or need help, ask your Mom or Dad.
  • send your own special letter back to your grandparent.

2. Read materials carefully.

You will send the directions for the grandchild's letters directly to the parent. Encourage them to contact you with questions.

3. Explain to other siblings.

If the child has brothers or sisters, parents should explain that the grandparent can only do this correspondence with one child at a time.

4. Help child make the scrapbook.

The child will need a three-ring notebook or a similar folder for holding the pictures, drawings and letters you send.

5. Answer the child's questions.

Parents should be available to answer any questions the child may have about the activities. If he or she needs help carrying out the activities, parents should be ready to give encouragement, ideas, and help.

6. Encourage their child to talk about the special letters.

7. Help with other arrangements.

Parents may need to help the child locate or borrow an audio-cassette recorder, help purchase audio-cassette tapes or writing materials, or help in packaging and mailing of the special letters and activities.
Step 3. Decide how to correspond
You may write or type your special letters or you may tape them with an audio-cassette recorder.
Step 4. Decide how often to correspond
Most correspondences should take place at least once every two weeks. Allow sufficient time for mailing.
Step 5. Plan the special letter
Read through all Grandparent Letters/Instructions carefully, paying special attention to the outline of the first letter and complete the checklist of activities. Discuss your ideas and thoughts and ask your grandchild to do the same about the key topic in your special letter. Do as many of the additional optional activities as you wish and feel free to include anything you think relates to the topic. Before mailing, listen to or read your letter to make sure you have made your points clearly.
Step 6. Mail your special letter
Address and mail the material directly to your grandchild.
Step 7. Enjoy what your grandchild sends
Be aware of your grandchild's reactions to the activities and be flexible in your future planning. Be patient. Correspondence may take longer to complete and send in than what you would hope. Contact the child's parents if the delay is more than 2 weeks to work on resolving unforeseen problems. If the child loses interest completely, don't become discouraged. Choose a different child and begin again.
Step 8. Follow-up
Let your grandchild's parents know what the course has meant to you. Record your feelings, thoughts, and reactions in your journal.
These ten letters you have exchanged will have created a strong foundation for a continuing relationship with your grandchild. When this program is over, we hope you will take the initiative to continue strengthening the relationship. If you and your grandchild have enjoyed these letters, continue corresponding. Identify goals that are relevant and important to you and your grandchild. As your grandchild grows older, examine problems and concerns that he or she faces. Think back to your childhood to find some of these concerns. Create your own activities to convey your ideas to each other.

Here are some suggestions of others ways to keep in touch:

  • Continue writing letters.
  • Continue exchanging cassette tapes.
  • Send postcards.
  • Send inexpensive gifts.
  • Prepare a grandparent newspaper.
  • Make phone calls.
  • Plan a visit.
  • Send the parent other things to store and give to the child after when he or she becomes an adult.

We are interested in hearing from you about GRANDLETTERS. What kinds of successes and problems did you have? Were the benefits worth your investment of time and effort? How did your grandchild react? Send your comments to:

Charles A. Smith, Ph.D.
Extension Specialist, Human Development
R304 Justin Hall Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506

May your words reach out to defeat time and distance to enrich the life of a special young person.

Comments to Parents
Your support and involvement will contribute to the success of Grandletters. Read these instructions carefully and explain the program to your child. If he or she agrees to participate, let the grandparent know immediately. Make space and materials available to the child to respond to the grandparent's letters. Keep the Grandchild Letters/Instructions in a safe place and show them to the grandchild as needed. Remember, the grandparent sends his or her letter #1 then the grandchild sends he or her letter #1. When the grandparent receives this letter then he or she sends letter #2 and so on. If you child's interest waivers, encourage, but don't force them to participate.

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Author Informationhttp://www.ksu.edu/wwparent/courses/gl/instruct.htm-- Revised: December 26, 1999
Copyright 1996-1999 Charles A. Smith. All rights reserved.