Keeping a journal comes naturally to many adults, but if asked, they will probably tell you that they have been journaling since they were children. Natural journal keepers will write in or on anything. Binder paper, steno tablets, post-its, or tiny scraps of paper left laying around will become full of words or doodles. A writer at heart will find a way to record their thoughts and ponderings.
But even non-writers can journal and many do. It is a wonderful exercise in self-expression and clarity of thought. Our kids can learn a great deal about themselves and the world around them by journaling at a young age. Here are a few ideas to help guide your child into journal keeping:
• Purchase some fun age appropriate journals for you kids. You can find little blank books at every bookstore and they are often very inexpensive.
• It is best to begin with low cost journals for your kids. This way your kids and you can feel comfortable with carrying it everywhere they go without worrying about dirt or folded pages. A messy journal is a loved journal.
• Let your children know that the journal is theirs alone and they can write or draw anything they want in it. The joy of a journal is the freedom to use it in any way that works for the owner.
• If your kids have never journaled, you may want to make the first few pages a requirement and then see if they begin to enjoy it without any rules.
• Encourage them to be honest and record their private thoughts in the journal and you must promise not to read it without permission. This is very important.
• Allow your kids to write as often or as little as they desire. Keeping a journal is not about making it homework. That will change the dynamic and take away the enjoyment.
• To help your kids begin, you can ask them to write about the best thing that happened for them that day, or the worst.
• Journals are a wonderful way to relieve stress and let emotions out that may not be released in any other way.
• Encourage doodling or drawing if that is your child’s most enjoyable expression.
• Journals are a wonderful place to write out prayers or letters to God.
Any age can begin journal keeping. It will look very different for a 5-year-old’s version compared to your high schooler’s journal. But it is all journal keeping. They will be treasured as your kids grow and mature. What a beautiful thing to combine with your children’s photos over the years. (If the child has given permission to you to read it.)