Writing can be daunting. So much to remember – spelling, punctuation, paragraphs, opening sentence, closing sentence and all that stuff in between! Our reluctant writers want no part of it, unless it’s short – very short. This is why journal writing is so effective. Kids can get away with a couple of sentences and it doesn’t have to be perfect. I know what you are thinking; “If it is sloppy writing with misspelled words, why do it?” The answer is simple – “expression of thoughts.” By allowing children to express their thoughts gives clarity to their thinking. I love this quotation from Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”
Recently I was interviewed for an article on how to help children become journal writers. My main points were:
1. Begin with drawings. After discussing the picture with your child, suggest words they can add that express emotion, like “ouch” or “happy”. This gives your child the idea that words convey feelings too.
2. Use writing prompts to stimulate ideas. “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” (Abraham Lincoln) “Being true” means doing what is right. What would you do if you saw a friend cheating? Report it, talk to the friend, or do nothing? By writing about a problem, your child defines their own reaction.
3. Always ask if your child wants to share their journal writing. Privacy is important. If you write about the same prompt in your own journal and share, it encourages discussion.
4. This is your time to be completely focused on your child and what they think. Enjoy and have fun!