The Benefits of Journaling
Keeping a journal may just be the answer to getting kids interested in writing and there is a host of other plus points too.
How many of you lament that your child finds composition writing a dreaded chore? Most kids chafe at it as the task is often constrained by formulaic-type questions geared towards preparing them to sit for exams and to fulfil certain criteria like a prescribed word count. They cannot write as they please or allow their imagination to run riot.
Is Journaling the Same as Keeping a Diary?
To get kids interested in writing, try journaling! Although a journal can be used to recount daily activities and allow one to pour out one’s thoughts and feelings about the day’s happenings, journaling is not the same as keeping a diary. It’s far more versatile and extends beyond keeping a record of daily activities as it can be incorporated into different areas of learning, such as maths, science, art, music or even sports.
Versatility of Journaling
If your child is having difficulty solving problem sums or working out a science question, get them to write down the questions and formulae. They can experiment with possible solutions or methods and even draw diagrams to explain their thought processes. With art, for example, your child can create preliminary sketches of their characters or detail how they would incorporate ideas from other artists to create their own artwork. The journal can even serve as a portfolio or sketchbook of sorts.
At this point, it doesn’t sound as if much writing is involved. However, it’s a stepping stone to easing your child into the writing process.
Journaling as a Means of Expression
Children who are more inhibited will find that keeping a journal is most useful for chronicling their thoughts or expressing their emotions. The process can be cathartic as it helps them internalise what could be troubling them and helps them work out solutions to these problems.
For younger children, it could be as simple as penning down how they feel about a particular incident. If they are open to you reading their entry, you could talk to your child about how they could resolve the issue or cope with similar incidents in future. Older children may not be as forthcoming and may prefer that their privacy be respected. Journaling can thus allow them to vent, analyse how they feel and even gain insights into their own or other people’s motivations for acting the way they do.
Getting Your Child Started
Below are some tips on how you can help interest your child in journaling:
- Start by choosing a journal which would appeal to your child. Make it special. Emboss their name on the cover, give stickers or other forms of embellishment to help your child personalise their journal.
- Provide them with writing prompts. Be creative – it could range from a line extracted from a well-known story or movie, a newspaper headline or a word that can appear anywhere (such as from a poster or food wrapper).
- They can also write from the perspective of an animal or an inanimate object.
- Model the journaling process and share what you have written with your child. It could be a short entry about your day at work, a holiday experience or a reflection on the simple pleasures in life.
- When your kids are older, they can graduate to creating a blog of their own. A blog is basically a journal in an online form.
The nub is not to make journaling a chore. Your child should be allowed to write or even draw anything they want, write as often as they choose to and not have to construct perfectly grammatical sentences with the correct spelling and punctuation. That way, they will begin cultivating a habit and perhaps even a lifelong love for writing.
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