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Journaling: How to

Published: 08/15/2009 by Roxanne Rizzuto B.Ed., B.A., T.E.S.L.

» Education & Learning Support

Many people hear the term “journaling” and immediately remember the diary they tried (and failed) to maintain as a child.  However, journaling can be so much more. 

Ideally, when doing it with a child, it’s about establishing the practice of writing regularly while also improving skills.  If you can promote the practice of writing on a regular basis, it will facilitate a love and appreciation of the writing process.

Together with your child you can begin by choosing a book in which to write.  Depending on abilities and interests, you may need to consider the size of the book and the lines.  For younger children, you may require something interlined.  For creative children, pages that are half plain-half blank may be desired. 

You don’t have to call the book a journal.  Your child can call it a storybook, an idea book or whatever she wants.  Let her decide and allow her to decorate it on the outside with her name, the title, stickers, and whatever else she thinks will make it her own.

Consider allowing this book to be the “untouchable” journal or storybook.  I’m a big advocate of children having at least one area of writing that’s not to be critiqued in any way.  Every child needs a safe place to express herself that’s free of any assessment other than positive comments and sheer appreciation.  Knowing this is an area where she’s free to have fun with her imagination will do wonders in terms of encouraging a love of writing and language.  

One of the best tools for unlocking writer’s block is writing every day.  Maybe she has to write three sentences, or one paragraph, or fill up half, one, two, three pages.  You can determine this according to ability and effort required.  The idea is not to endure a daily meltdown, but to structure a daily writing expectation that eventually becomes routine and stress-free.

Writing first thing in the day may be better than leaving it to the end of the day when your child is tired.  It may also work better if she tackles her daily writing  all at once.  In other words, don’t let her do another task and come back to it.  As long as you have realistic expectations, this task should be completed in a reasonable amount of time and then she can continue with his other activities.

If you’re facing a reluctant writer, check your expectations.  Maybe start with less writing and build to more to make the task less daunting.  The end results are worth it if you can stick it out and work through the difficulties.  When your child writes regularly she’ll take less time to write and the quality of writing will gradually improve. 

If you’re looking for writing topics, there is a wealth of creative ideas on the Internet, or you can go to a teachers’ store where you’ll find various books with writing ideas.  Remember, while websites are easily accessible and more economical, there is something to be said for holding a book in our hands. 

Journaling on a regular basis is all about self-exploration. As this journey of self-discovery continues, you’ll appreciate the lifelong tool with which you’ve provided your child.  For it’s not only a pathway to the development of personal expression, but a cathartic emotional release in times of stress or anxiety that you’ll see your child return to time and time again.

Above all, make sure you save their journals. These wonderful keepsakes.  Re-examining them years later presents a treasure box of memories as well as a great revelation of personal and academic growth.  <>

Write-About series and Journal Topics
by McDonald Publishing Co. 

Giant Write Every Day by Evan-Moor