Journaling is often a good activity for kids who are reluctant to write or, in some cases, reluctant to speak.
The versatility of journaling makes it very helpful to be incorporated into many different areas of learning, including math, science and social studies.
Let’s say, if your child is having difficulty figuring out how he’s solving math problems, try putting together a math journal. It can be as simple as a notebook in which he writes various facts and formulas as well as having space to show his work. Going back and looking at his work over time can help cement his thought process.
Similarly, a science journal can be used to write about experiments , hypotheses he has, observations he makes and to store newspaper or magazine articles of interesting happenings in the science world.
Journaling As an Outlet
For children who have a hard time expressing their needs verbally or making decisions about things, keeping a journal of their thoughts is a great way to help learn emotional organization. Even if all your child does is write about an interaction she had during the day, she can always go back to explore that interaction more objectively.
But, she will only be able to do this if she feels secure that this journal is for her eyes only. If you can’t make this promise, you can’t expect your child to take on this type of journaling.
- explore and identify emotions
- feel anger
- express fear
- examine the pros and cons of something in order to be more decisive
- look more carefully at her thoughts about something after the immediate situation has passed
- gain some insight into her own and other people’s motives
- see the positives as well as the negatives
- plan out difficult conversations ahead of time
Traditional journaling used for learning often involves writing to a prompt. It can be a self-provided prompt, or parent-directed prompt. Even though it’s still more personal than a math or science journal, this type of journal is not so much a diary as it is a way to practice all the skills of writing in one place.
It’s a storytelling tool, a place to learn how much information completes a story, what words work well to paint the picture of a story. It’s also a way to practice the nuances of grammar and spelling.
Kids imitate what they know. When you first start prompted journal writing with your child, you may find that his writing is structured a lot like his favorite books. He may even use some of the same catch phrases. The more he writes, the more likely he is to read in order to discover different voices and styles. Eventually, he’ll find one that is uniquely his own.
Types of Journals to Try at Home
- Nature Journals. A Nature Journal is a way to keep track of observations about the world around us – drawing pictures of insects, animals or birds you see; describing the sounds you hear; and gluing in interesting bits of nature to research.
- Feelings Journal. A Feelings Journal is a great way to help a younger child build an emotional vocabulary. It can be done a few ways. Your child can identify her current emotions, draw a picture and label it, choose a feeling from a feeling poster or wheel to write and draw about or learn a new emotion to draw and write about.
- Vacation Journal. A Vacation Journal can be a family project and it’s lots of fun. In a nutshell, this type of journal chronicles your vacation using a combination of writing, pictures, and souvenirs.
- Art Journal -Kids start expressing themselves visually from the moment they can hold a crayon. They use drawing and coloring to share their feelings with the world in the same way we use words. In fact, kids first understand letters as shapes, not as abstract concepts with meaning and sound.
Here are some top tips to make journaling fun:
- Keep it simple.
- Take your journal out and about with you for when you feel you have something to say.
- Get nice pens. Let your children try out all the pens (we like gel pens).
- Try out different books. Children are usually fond of certain types of notebooks. There is a lot of choice in notebooks, so let your children experiment.
- Keep it private. To really get the benefit of journaling for kids, your children need to feel comfortable that they can write freely.
- Journal for yourself – If you want your children to journal, then the best way to encourage them is to write (or draw in) one yourself. This would be a great activity to try!
Have some journaling ideas of your own? Do share them with us.