We know your kids get up to some pretty interesting stuff every day. Don’t you wish they kept track of it all? Maybe it’s time they started keeping a journal. Keeping a journal is as simple as putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), and it’s a fluid activity that can be tailored to any child’s specific interests and personality. But journaling isn’t just fun – it can aid your child’s development more than you might think.
There are lots of reasons to encourage your child to start journaling. Not only does it help strengthen vocabulary, grammar, and penmanship skills, it also promotes an introspective thought process that can be beneficial when kids are stressed or upset. Knowing that they have an arena in which to explore their interests, or a safe haven for their most private thoughts, will also help kids develop confidence and healthy coping strategies.
So how do you get kids to start journaling? First, make sure they know it’s an activity for everybody, young and old, boys and girls. If your little boy thinks diaries are “just for girls”, make sure to dispel that notion by telling him about all the important men, from political figures like Thomas Jefferson to explorers such as Benjamin Clark, who kept a journal. Try starting younger kids off with a focused idea, such as keeping a journal about an upcoming family vacation. Set aside a few minutes each day for them to record their thoughts about the trip; once you’re home, have them paste maps, ticket stubs, and other keepsakes into the back of the book. Of course, not all journals have to be so specific. Freeform writing is extremely beneficial to kids, whether it’s one sentence or one page a day.
One of the best things about journaling is its privacy, but sometimes it takes a conscious effort to keep a journal away from prying eyes. For older kids who are on social media sites like Facebook, it’s tempting to post lots of personal status updates and photos, which is cool, but it’s not quite the same as a journal. Be sure to remind budding social media mavens that what goes on the web stays on the web – permanently. They should carefully consider the differences between what they write for the world to see, and what stays private. And always remember: your child’s private journal is off-limits unless they give you permission to read it.
Everyone needs a space to reflect, and as children grow older they’ll realize more and more the value of creating a journal all about their interests, hopes, and ambitions. If you kept a journal when you were younger, dig it up and check it out. Better yet, share it with your child. Perhaps this will inspire them to start their own.